Jazz program tunes into holiday season at annual multi-band concert

The school’s musicians stand together in a moment of unity at their December 7th performance in the Performing Arts Center. “It’s outside of class schedule, but it actually feels more like a community rather than just a bunch of individuals,” junior Aidan Collins said.
Photo by Vivian Campbell.

The jazz program performed in the Oswego East Music department’s holiday concert on Tuesday, December 7th, in the PAC, marking the start of the holiday season.

The jazz program had been preparing for the holiday concert after their last performance in November. Musicians came together on this night to perform amongst each other and an audience, showing off the hard work they have put into their season. 

The different bands performed 10 pieces, three of which were specific to the jazz program. Performing familiar holiday songs like “Winter Wonderland” and “Frosty the Snowman,” the up-tempo numbers helped lift the audience’s holiday spirit. The jazz bands each represented the program in their respective numbers on Tuesday.

Senior Katie Dunn has been a part of Jazz Ensemble — the top jazz band — since her freshman year. Dunn said that as someone who likes to participate in many extracurricular activities, she joined the jazz program for a new challenge as a musician.

“Jazz Band has definitely helped me as a musician,” Dunn said. “Being around these musicians who are better than me has inspired me to practice and it has helped me work harder.” 

Along with Dunn, senior saxophonist Stacey Schroeder said that constructive criticism during practice is used positively to improve the strength of the band.

“Jazz band provides many solo opportunities that push you to do, better and there’s also a lot of styles and features that aren’t available during a concert band,” Schroeder said.

This push to be better was apparent throughout the evening and in preparation for the event. Junior bari saxophonist Aidan Collins said that the jazz performers worked to refine the finer details of their performance.

“Mainly we have been working on having the style correct and rhythms correct for the piece we are playing,” Collins added.

Compared to last year’s smaller crowd, according to freshman trumpist Clarke Chen, the evening’s turnout seemed to be a great success which was pleasing for the hard work they put in for preparation.

“Today we were playing and everyone was excited to be there,” Chen said.

Freshman jazz band member Miles Mosher said that his experience for his first year was one to remember.

“My favorite memory is when the whole section was jammin on rockin’,” Mosher added.

This energy was shared by other members of the band, including junior Sean Elliot. 

“[‘Big Band Christmas 2’] was fun and jazzy and some of the people in it had some good solos on it,” Elliot said.

This piece was a favorite for junior tenor saxophonist Melanie Farr. Farr said that she enjoys the laid back feel of the piece but did not feel that comfortable when performing more upbeat compositions such as “Sleigh Ride.”

“The rhythms were a lot more complex,” Farr added. “And with jazz, you can kind of be as interpretive as you want, but with ‘Sleigh Ride’ and classical music in general, you have to really strictly adhere to one style.”

While this concert posed a challenge to Farr and other jazz performers, Band conductor Stevan Rexroat said that the students’ joy was more important than their skills. 

“I would say in the last month our tone quality, intonation, technique, and just overall confidence as musicians has grown,” Rexroat said. “I think the students within the ensembles have also grown closer and there is a greater sense of community which I love to see as their teacher.”

Vivian Campbell is a staff writer for Oswego East High School’s online news magazine the Howl

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