Our jazz program just completed a crazy week. First off, the OHS Jazz Ensemble 1 opened up for the Vern Spevak Big Band last Sunday. The kids did great, and it was wonderful to hear some of the best players in Chicagoland performing in their element. Trumpeter Dave Katz, who works with our trumpeters from time to time, was a special guest soloist.
Then on Friday, Beloit Memorial High School, one of the premier jazz programs in the country, came to our school for a concert exchange. Just a bunch of kids playing music for each other...what a great day!
Our top jazz band was dealt a cruel blow when the Purdue Jazz Festival was cancelled because of the weather. However, they were able to join our Orange and Blue Jazz Ensembles at the NorthShore JazzFest. For the second straight year, all of our groups achieved straight Division I ratings, including our top combo, who was competing for the first time. For the third straight year, one of our groups placed in the top three, with our Orange Jazz 2 third place in the second jazz band division. (at the writing of this post, we didn’t know the other rankings) Ryan Kazda was outstanding pianist in his room. All bands received clinics after their performances, and it was a good day by all!
and lastly, on Martin Luther King Junior‘s birthday, the top jazz band came in on their day off, and had a professional recording technician come in to record them. A special thanks to Brian O’Callaghan for lending his expertise.
Today was a tough day for our Oswego family. While I didn’t know Nicole Larsen well, seeing the amount of students come in to my band class completely devastated told me all I needed to know; this was a woman who loved her students, and in turn was deeply loved and respected by those same kids. I absolutely love my job, but my favorite thing about it is the kids. Seeing these kids in tears was absolutely heartbreaking, so we cried together, tackled the subject, and did what we do best, played music with our friends.
After school, we had marching band practice. Some kids went home early; it was a hard day, and we happily sent them home to deal with the emotions that only they know how to handle. Most kids stayed and we had a great rehearsal. What floored me was at the end of rehearsal, there was a bunch of equipment left out because we forgot to put people in charge of bringing it back. Some of the same kids that were bawling during concert band asked if we needed any help bringing the stuff back, then dragged it all back before tending to their own emotions. Band kids truly are the best kids.
There is a song that I turn to a lot. While I’ve certainly listened to it while upset or despondent, I think of it more as something I turn to when I need something truly beautiful. John Coltrane’s “Naima” is just that; beauty in audio form. I can close my eyes and cry at its beauty while I’m happy as a clam. So to my students, my band family, I invite you to close your eyes and let it’s beauty wash over you. We love you and are here for you in whatever capacity you need us to be. #bandfamily #pantherstrong
May was indeed a crazy month, a time to celebrate some major accomplishments, all while saying goodbye to a fantastic senior class. First of all, our Wind Symphony was selected to the prestigious Superstate festival at the University of Illinois for the fifth straight year. Performing at the Krannert Center is always a highlight, and the students also toured campus.
Next, we had our last two concerts of the year, as well as recognizied our graduating seniors.
Our annual Band Bandquet, put on by our Band Boosters, was a Mardi Gras theme. After a great meal, we handed out lots of awards.
Most Improved Concert Band: Elizabeth Beamish
Outstanding Concert Band: Taylor Williams and Robert Gleason
Most Improved Chamber Winds: Aidan Tweedy
Outstanding Chamber Winds: Sophie Roberts and Dawson Nance
Most Improved Symphonic Band: Jaxon Vogel and Sal Virzi
Outstanding Symphonic Band: Maddie Woolley
Most Improved Wind Ensemble: Brie Ruggiero
Outstanding Wind Ensemble: Kyle Bachara, Logan McIntyre, Alyssa Ladewski
Outstanding Wind Symphony: Caroline Davey, Gavin Davis, Niyasha Johnson
Band Booster Scholarships: Ryan Kertesz, Caroline Davey, Hannah Kelsheimer, Nathan Labora
Pep Band Award: Hannah Kelsheimer
National Marching Award: Hannah Kelsheimer
Woody Herman Jazz Award: Connor McCabe
Louis Armstrong Jazz Award: Jimmy Gleason
Director's Awards: Nathan Labora and Julia Woelke
Senior Spirit Award: Jimmy Gleason
Leadership Award: Jimmy Gleason
Patrick Gilmore Award: Claire Accardo
John Philip Sousa Award: Hannah Kelsheimer
Lastly, OHS has a dinner every year for the Top 10% of the graduating class, and the event is always well stocked with band students.
The had a great opportunity to take a step back into one of the hardest times in our country’s history and taking a step back in time at a plantation. After that, they checked out the French Quarter and saw one of the most famous jazz clubs in America, Preservation Hall.
Soaking in some of the most memorable experiences that New Orleans has to offer
A morning at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Music City Band Festival. Congrats to the OHS bands for 3 gold medal performances and outstanding soloist Ben Sester!
After a music packed morning, the OHS band kids took it to downtown Nashville today for some Music City fun!