Note by note, Jazz Ensemble is creating quite a name for itself.
Under the direction of Erin Stroup, the high school musicians have been selected to participate in the 2012 Swing Central Jazz Workshop, an event produced by the Savannah Music Festival (Georgia). Only 12 high school jazz ensembles from across the country are invited to perform in this festival after submitting a recorded audition to the Swing Central Jazz judges. With this selection, the Lower Moreland Jazz Ensemble has earned the opportunity to play and perform with world class jazz musicians, including clinics with Wycliffe Gordon, of the Lincoln Jazz Orchestra. Additionally, one of the professional musicians will be visiting Lower Moreland High School to conduct a three-hour clinic.
“I can’t speak enough about how hard these kids work,” said Stroup, noting that students must audition to be in the jazz ensemble. “They are so dedicated and they are being rewarded for it. They are going to Savannah and they are representing not only themselves, but the entire Lower Moreland community. And you couldn’t ask for a better group to represent you.”
Participating students will work with jazz masters across three days, perform in showcases on Savannah’s River Street, play in competition rounds, and attend a variety of SMF performances during their stay, which takes place from March 28 through March 30, 2012. The jazz ensemble will also be competing for cash awards to benefit the Lower Moreland music program. Each band plays three selections: “Grease Bucket” Composed and arr. by Wycliffe Gordon, “Sweet Georgia Brown” arr. by Sammy Nestico for the Count Basie Orchestra, and “Conservation” by Bobby Watson. The event will be webcast for family members who can’t make it to the festival.
“It think we are all still in shock about this,” said Eric Ahern, an LMHS junior who has been playing trumpet for about 10 years. “I’m looking forward to being around other good musicians.”
While the Jazz Ensemble has performed in other national festivals, this process was much more selective, Stroup said, noting that other schools have multiple jazz bands while Lower Moreland has only one.
For Mike Fiocca, a trumpet player, there is no better way to spend his senior year of high school.
“This is the culmination of all four years of playing in Jazz Ensemble. It’s the grand finale of my high school career,” said Fiocca, who has been playing trumpet since fourth grade. “I’m looking forward to soaking it all in and being around people who enjoy the same thing I do. It’s still so unbelievable.”
Students must audition for one of the 22 spots in Jazz Ensemble. The young musicians spend countless hours rehearsing each week. It’s not uncommon to hear the sound of music on any given night ringing throughout the halls of Lower Moreland High School.
“We couldn’t do this without the support of everyone here at Lower Moreland. They really support music,” said Stroup.
The challenge now is raising money to get all 22 musicians to Savannah for the festival. Throughout the year, the Jazz Ensemble performs throughout the community and received a stipend for their performance, which is part of the fundraising efforts. By winning a place in the festival, they have already been awarded $500 to help defray traveling expenses. Peak Performance Tours, who has been working with the LMHS bands for 10 years, is providing transportation at cost for the students. Stroup estimates that the cost per student will be $400 for the trip. The Lower Moreland High School Music Boosters is organizing a Spaghetti Dinner to help raise funds. If you’d like to help, contact Erin Stroup at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is an opportunity of a lifetime for Isabelle Sufler, a 10th-grader. “I personally want to be a professional musician so this is an amazing opportunity. This is a big step for the Lower Moreland music program and a milestone for us (students).”
More information on the event can be found by visiting: http://www.swingcentraljazz.org/community/2012-participants.php