By Julie Ackerman-Hovis, Music Coordinator and William Harvey, Upper Division Music Teacher
The upper school Singing Class were in Boston January 30th to February 1st to participate in the Berklee College of Music High School Jazz Festival. Our small but determined group of five worked hard for months preparing for this event, and had a great time!
The festival was held at the Hynes Convention Center down the street from Berklee College of Music. This was an amazingly large event. High school musicians hurried through the halls of three levels of the Center. Ballrooms and side rooms were filled with instrumental and vocal groups. Sounds of jazz and fusion came from every nook and cranny! Tables were set up in the lobby by vendors showing off saxophones, trumpets, drum sticks, and more. Our group got to hear a few Boston ensembles, including a jazz band and a funk band that featured some talented singers. It was really important for our students to be exposed to other high school groups, to hear what students their age are capable of, and to get ideas from other groups similar to theirs.
As our singing time slot approached, we headed to our assigned room for set-up. Shortly thereafter, the judges arrived and took their seats behind the table. The nerves and excitement began to set in. This was it! We were really here! The group began with Take the A Train by Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn, which they nailed. They then sang Doodlin, a lyrically funny and musically challenging song by Horace Silver and John Hendricks. When the group finished, a representative from the judges’ table came forward and gave the group and its director comments. The judge gave us one of the highest compliments a young jazz group can get – he said that our group can really swing! Then he told us that it would be helpful for the group to engage more with each other and the audience and to move a little more. Following the comments, each member of the group received a trophy. After singing, we stayed at the Festival for a while to listen to the Berklee College of Music’s various vocal ensembles. Each group was incredibly impressive and inspiring.
It was time to move on. We gathered our things and headed out into the sunny but very cold day in search of lunch. We then headed to the T, which took us into downtown Boston. We braved the cold to walk through the historic streets toward the New England Aquarium, which was so much fun. It was one of our singer’s birthday, so we ventured to Chinatown for a birthday dinner at a hip Chinese/sushi restaurant. Afterwards, we headed down the street to our lovely hotel. We were all absolutely bushed and called it a night!
The next morning, we rose early and checked out of the hotel. We were glad to be heading back home, but all agreed that the trip to Boston was a huge success on many levels. We can’t wait to go back next year!