Band jazzed up for competition

The high school jazz ensemble is trying to raise $17,000 to help pay for its trip to a national contest this April in Branson, M

The high school jazz ensemble is trying to raise $17,000 to help pay for its trip to a national contest this April in Branson, M

October 01, 2002|by RICHARD BELISLE

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Junior and senior members of the Waynesboro Area Senior High School Jazz Ensemble will return to Branson, Mo., in April to reprise a performance they did there in a 1999 contest when they were in the middle school jazz band.

The high school band will, as they did when they were middle schoolers, represent Pennsylvania in the competition.

All the 23 members have to do is raise $17,000 to pay their expenses to the Show Me State.

They were the only middle school band invited to play in annual Branson Jubilee National Jazz Band Competition in 1999. Now juniors and seniors, they have been invited back to compete in the 2003 competition, said Patrick McNamee, a school music teacher.

"We never knew where the invitation (in 1999) came from," McNamee said. "All we knew is that someone heard us play somewhere and invited us.


"They remembered that they were so impressed with our performance in 1999 that we've been invited back," he said.

High schools from across the U.S. are invited to compete in the competition, McNamee said. Last year, 35 schools signed up.

The competitions are sponsored by a private company, McNamee said.

In 1999 the Waynesboro middle schoolers competed against high school jazz bands. That year the competition was won by a Jefferson High School band from Jefferson County, W.Va.

Waynesboro High has had a jazz band since the 1950s, about 30 years before the current members were born.

The band members plan to raise money for their trip by offering to play at local functions for donations. They have five gigs set up so far, including a school board dinner, an Elks Club event and for a local police group, McNamee said.

"We're putting ourselves out for parties, concerts and festivals," said trumpeter Heather Small, 17.

The members plan to sell candles, body lotion, perfume and Christmas wreaths and will wait on tables in a Greencastle restaurant.

Contest winners don't win cash, only trophies.

"But we could get the satisfaction of being national champions," Small added.

"They invite the best jazz bands in every state," said drummer Scott Hershberger, 17. "They could have picked somebody from Philadelphia or Pittsburgh."

The kids had good memories of the '99 trip. "We saw Bobby Vinton and we got to hear the Glenn Miller Orchestra," said tenor sax player Emily Davis, 17.

Small said she won't play music after high school. "My musical career stops here except for listening to the radio," she said.

Davis and Hershberger said they might play in college bands.

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