The John Hersey High School Jazz Ensembles won high honors this past Saturday, March 9, at the 54th annual Mundelein Jazz Festival. Hersey’s Jazz Ensemble 1 won second place in their class, and Hersey’s Jazz Ensemble 2 won Grand Champion in their class. There were 42 middle and high school jazz groups that performed at the festival this year.
“This is the first year that Hersey has attended this event and the education component was first class in every way,” said Scott Casagrande, director of bands at Hersey. “Students benefitted from extended clinics with the best in the business and they rose to the occasion in their performances. In particular, Jazz Ensemble 2 dealt with the passing of their director a short three weeks ago. They dedicated their performance to Mr. Tom Beckwith and played an amazing concert. Mr. Beckwith was an avid Blackhawks fan and the Jazz ENSEMBLE 2 students wore Blackhawk gear in his memory for their performance. It was a great day in every way.”
Featured soloists for Jazz Ensemble 2 included Ally Ohr on guitar, Zhivko Zhekov on alto saxophone, and Andrey Pikovsky on piano. Soloists for Jazz Ensemble 1 included David Balut on trumpet, Jake Esposito on trombone, Luke Podvrsan on alto saxophone, and Frank Karigan on clarinet.
Jazz Ensemble 2 performed the selections Dat Dere, by Timmons/Morales, Autumn Leaves by Kosma/Blair, and This I Dig of You, by Mobley/Tomaro. Jazz Ensemble 1 performed the selections There is No Greater Love, by Symes/Richards, Spring and Fall, by Chris Madsen, and Oleo by Sonny Rollins/Baylock.
The Hersey Jazz Ensembles’ previous jazz festival appearance this year at the Purdue Jazz Festival was regrettably canceled due to inclement weather. The Hersey Jazz Ensembles look forward to returning to the Mundelein Jazz Festival in 2020.