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Hundreds swing to students' music at jazz fest

May 08, 1999|By LAURA ERNDE

Hundreds of people traded the heat and humidity of the city for some cool jazz in the park Saturday.

"It's close to home and I love jazz," said Scott Bragunier, 20, of Williamsport.

Bragunier, a music education major and lead trombone player in Shepherd College's jazz ensemble, came to hear some of the musicians he'll be playing with next year as fellow students at the college.

Nine jazz bands from Washington County middle and high schools played at Doub Woods Park south of Hagerstown. The day-long concert was capped off by a performance by the Army Blues.

"We wanted a showcase for our jazz ensembles," said Tony Domenico, band director at South Hagerstown High School.

Domenico, with the help of the Board of Education's music department and Washington County Arts Council, organized the first "Swingin' in the Park."

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The crowd, many of them parents and friends of musicians, brought folding chairs to listen to some of the county's best student musicians.

After practicing all year, the students were at their peak, band directors said.

Williamsport High School went several years without a jazz band, but has built back the "Commanders Jazz" program over the last four years, said Band Director Ray Chaney.

Students start practice every weekday morning at 7:30 a.m., an hour before classes start, he said.

This year, Williamsport is graduating four or five students who will major in music in college this fall, he said.

Domenico hopes that the event will become annual and that county music teachers find more ways to take advantage of the park setting for concerts.

"It's a lot of fun. I hope it grows in the future," said Amanda Hammann, a sophomore at Williamsport High School who plays baritone saxophone.

Listeners heard a variety of jazz styles. There was a tribute to Duke Ellington, who would have had his 100th birthday last week, and a nod to the recently popular swing music with "Jump, Jive and Wail" and "Zoot Suit Riot."

Jamie Conner, 18, of Hagerstown, said she came to hear her boyfriend play trumpet. Jeremy Bohner, 16, belongs to the North Hagerstown High School jazz band.

Judy Ditto, 46, of Hagerstown, was there to hear her son, Andrew, with North Hagerstown.

She said it was a good opportunity for students from different schools to hear each other play.

"I think it's wonderful. It's too bad they don't do more things like this," she said.

The Washington County Arts Council helped publicize the event and coordinate security, Domenico said.

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