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Jazz ensemble shares stage with high school honor band

The PSU Jazz Ensemble welcomed the District II Honor Jazz Band to the Bicknell Center Thursday, Nov. 15. 

Under the direction of Robert Kehle, the PSU Jazz Ensemble performed a concert in conjunction with District II of the Kanas Music Educators Association (KMEA)’s ensemble, the Honor Jazz Band. The students in the Honor Jazz Band were required to audition for the ensemble, and spent the day leading up to the concert rehearsing with guest clinician, Freddie Green. 

“It’s really fun, because you get to play with other great musicians,” Alejandra Cornelio, senior at Pittsburg High School and second trumpet with the Honor Jazz Band, said. “I love playing (music) … with other people, in general.” 

Cornelio and others auditioned on Nov. 3 at Fort Scott Middle School after preparing for the auditions with both excerpts and practicing various theoretical skills, such as improvisation. 

“It’s a real different atmosphere, because everyone says, ‘Whoo! This is District Jazz!’ and it’s just so nice,” Cornelio said. “I love it.”  

Guest clinician, Freddie Green, is also professor of trumpet and director of jazz bands at Missouri Southern State University in Joplin. He and the students in the Honor Jazz Band met and began rehearsing at 9 a.m. the day of the concert. 

“He’s so lively,” Cornelio said. “… And he encourages you, which … is really cool. Right at nine, we started going through pieces. He would pull up one and we would go through it, and then we’d move on to the next one.” 

Cornelio also received the opportunity to play a featured solo on the song, “Feelings” during the concert, of which she had no idea about prior to their lunch break. 

“It was really nerve-wracking, because I saw that it said solo, but I didn’t know it was … a featured solo,” Cornelio said. “… I said, ‘OK, this is where my education comes in …’ I thought it was fun, because I never got to do that before.” 

The PSU Jazz Ensemble’s roster includes several District II Honor Jazz alumni, including Kameron Allen, freshman in music education on trombone, and Ryan Amick, junior in music education on alto saxophone. 

“It’s really cool, getting to see this tradition of wanting to excel in music … and inspiring the kids to perform at such a level,” Amick said. “… With all these honor bands, they bring in a clinician from outside the area that comes in and works with the students … They get to work with someone, who unless they continue with a college career (in music), who they can then be instructed by … they … get to learn from these talented individuals.” 

Amick also said the Honor Jazz Band’s performance at the Bicknell Center is a “great way to bolster recruitment for Pitt State.” 

“We get to perform for them and they get to see what our top jazz band is doing and how things are done here,” Amick said. “… It’s important that they continue in music but especially important that they continue in music at Pitt State.”

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