Bakersfield College instrumental music students will perform their final concert Thursday evening, not only to show off what they've learned, but to remind people that the BC music program is worth supporting.

The Jazz Ensemble, Concert Band and Drum Line will all perform at the concert, which will be held at the stage in the college's campus center, near the cafeteria at 7 p.m.

The program includes traditional marches by William Walton and John Philip Sousa, a tribute to the music of film and television composer Henry Mancini, plus arrangements of pop music favorites, as well as some essential charts, including Benny Golson's "Killer Joe," Dizzy Gillespie's "Con Alma," and Horace Silver's "Ecaroh." Also on the program are three compositions by Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti, arranged by Jazz Ensemble director Kris Tiner.

Tiner said he and Concert Band director Tim Heasley decided to combine their groups to make an impression.

"It's going to be a critical time for us (next year)," Tiner said. "So one of the things we're trying to do by putting all of our groups together is to have as large a presence as possible."

Tiner was referring to a double-whammy faced by the college music department (disclosure: the reporter is adjunct faculty in the BC music department). Like all BC academic programs, the music department is facing cutbacks as budgets get tighter; but the music department is also operating without its usual rehearsal and performance space, as the planned remodeling of the Speech-Arts-Music building, which includes the indoor and outdoor theaters and the rehearsal rooms, was halted last fall just as work was scheduled to begin. The building has been closed since August, and performance ensembles have been working in whatever space is available.

"We've been sort of homeless this year," Tiner said, adding that the instrumental groups have been rehearsing in a large classroom space in the student services building.

"It's an OK space; it's not a music space," Tiner said.

Tiner said it is customary to take the ensembles off campus to perform in good years as well as tough years, which not only gives the students different experiences, but also raises the profile of the ensembles.

"I like to provide a diverse range of performance opportunities to the students, expose them to different types of gigs," Tiner said. "It's important to get them out into the community; it becomes part of our outreach."

Tickets, available at the concert, are $8 general admission and $5 for students, seniors and BC staff. Proceeds from the concert will support the BC instrumental music program.

"It's not just about a department or an institution, it's about the idea that the arts are central to how we understand ourselves as a community, so it is important that we nurture our local culture from its very earliest stages," Tiner said. "These students are the future performers, creators, music teachers and cultural leaders in our community."