60th annual Jazz Festival hosts clinics for students, competitions

Austen Brown, Staff Reporter

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The Jazz Festival was hosted at the Doudna Fine Arts Center over the weekend, bringing in students from high schools and middle schools in Illinois and Indiana eager to showcase their musical talents and hear from Eastern’s own jazz ensemble.

The festival also featured bands from Monticello High School, Urbana Middle School, Williamsville High School and more.

The 60th annual Jazz Festival kicked off Friday evening with a concert by the EIU Jazz Ensemble, which featured guest artists Tim Stanley, Josh Marcus and Aaron Eckert.

Sam Fagaly directed the ensemble as they played classics like “Sadie’s Sister” by Pete McGuinness and “Scott Free” by Mike Tomaro.

The festival continued Saturday morning with middle school and high school band competitions.

Clinics featured at Doudna targeted players of each of the instruments included in a typical jazz ensemble, such as the trumpet, trombone and guitar.

These clinics worked to familiarize student-musicians with things like scales, solos and transcription.

During Tim Stanley’s clinic on the trumpet, he demonstrated a solo from “Cherokee,” which he called a “rite of passage” for trumpet players, and he talked about how it was very challenging for him to learn it.

He reassured his audience not to be intimidated by how difficult it may be to learn a song.

Another clinic was Aaron Eckert’s on the trombone, during which he spent time touching on subjects like improvisation and transcription.

In explaining the importance of transcription, Eckert did call-and-response with his audience, during which he would play a series of notes and the audience would echo it.

After the instrument clinics, the band competitions continued.

Three judges sat in the audience writing notes about each band’s performance.

Each band of musicians received feedback immediately afterwards, hearing constructive criticism on things that could use improvement and praise for what things were done well.

To conclude the festival, the awards ceremony was hosted in the Dvorak Concert Hall.

Dozens of students in high school and middle school alike were recognized as outstanding performers, as well as one “Player of the Day” from high school and middle school each, selected by the judges.

The school with the most outstanding performers was Glenwood Middle School’s 7th grade jazz band with 11 students recognized.

The final awards of the night were given to the best bands in their class in high school and middle school respectively.

First place in middle school class B was awarded to West Vigo Middle School, while the class A winner was Mahomet Seymour Junior High.

The high school winner for class B was West Vigo High School’s jazz band.

In high school Class A, first place went to Mahomet-Seymour High School Jazz Band.

Second and third place winners in Class AA were Belleville West and Normal Community High School Jazz Collective, respectively.

Finally, first place in Class AA was Normal Community High School Jazz Ensemble.

Austen Brown can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].