Hope College faculty member releases debut album in response to prejudice

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Drawing on his Korean American heritage, Jordan VanHemert wrote the album as a response to the prejudice and persecution Asian Americans have experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic. Courtesy Hope College

Nationally acclaimed jazz saxophonist and Hope College faculty member Jordan VanHemert released his debut album “I Am Not a Virus.”

Drawing on his Korean American heritage, VanHemert wrote the album as a response to the prejudice and persecution Asian Americans have experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the album explores a range of topics, including police killings and the resulting Black Lives Matter protests in 2020.

Released earlier this month on Big Round Records, the album was recorded in two days at Hope’s Jack H. Miller Center for Musical Arts and showcases the quintet of VanHemert, trumpeter Rob Smith, bassist Kazuki Takemura, Andy Wheelock on drums and Hope adjunct professor of piano Lisa Sung. The album was made safely with all participants socially distant.

In addition to teaching saxophone and jazz at Hope since 2019, VanHemert is an active composer, writing for wind chamber groups and jazz ensembles throughout the country, and is frequently invited to serve as an adjudicator for district and state jazz festivals.

VanHemert also has composed a jazz mass as part of a yearly Advent commission for First Reformed Church of Holland and is the founder and music director of the Holland Concert Jazz Orchestra, an ensemble dedicated to increasing awareness and access to jazz education and performance programs in the area’s youth.

“I Am Not a Virus” is available for download on Amazon.

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