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Smithsburg High hosting Blue Ridge Jazz Festival on April 25

Professional group to close 34th annual event

Professional group to close 34th annual event

April 18, 2008|By JANET HEIM

SMITHSBURG -- With the Blue Ridge Jazz Festival on the horizon, Gary Rupert and the Smithsburg High School Jazz Band are in full swing as the host site.

This year's festival will be Friday, April 25, starting at 5 p.m. and running until about 10:30 p.m.

The festival, which has been going on for 34 years, usually draws eight or nine middle and high school jazz ensembles in the four-state area for adjudication.

Along with Smithsburg, jazz bands from Northern Middle School, North Hagerstown High School, Frederick (Md.) High School, Musselman High School in Inwood, W.Va., Damascus (Md.) High School, Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring, Md., and Mountain Ridge High School in Frostburg, Md., will perform.

Rupert likes to close the event with a university jazz ensemble or a military band jazz ensemble before the awards ceremony. This year, he said he had the opportunity to feature the Yellowjackets, a professional jazz fusion group that has been around for about 20 years.

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"This is a great opportunity for the student musicians to hear and interact with professionals who are making a living playing music," Rupert said in an e-mail. "In fact, Bob Mintzer, the saxophone player for the group, will be soloing with my students."

The downside is that the cost of the Yellowjackets performance is a stretch for his budget, Rupert said. Rupert's jazz band students are contacting individuals and businesses for sponsorship in the festival's program to help offset the cost.

For a $25 donation, the donor's name will be in the program, and for $50, the donor's business card will be printed in the program.

The Yellowjackets travel throughout the United States as well as internationally. For more information, go to the group's official Web site at www.yellowjackets.com.

Tickets to the festival are $25 and can be purchased at the school by calling 301-766-8337 or can be purchased at the door.

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