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A Musically-Inclined Weekend for DP’s Jazz Choir and Instrumental Combo

The+Dos+Pueblos+Jazz+Choir+after+competing+at+the+Reno+Jazz+Festival+in+Nevada.+Jazz+singers+Nicole+Trujillo+%2811%29%2C+Lendin+Stell+Santiago+%2812%29%2C+and+Thomas+Mooy+%2811%29+received+outstanding+soloist+awards.
The Dos Pueblos Jazz Choir after competing at the Reno Jazz Festival in Nevada. Jazz singers Nicole Trujillo (11), Lendin Stell Santiago (12), and Thomas Mooy (11) received outstanding soloist awards.

The Dos Pueblos Jazz Choir after competing at the Reno Jazz Festival in Nevada. Jazz singers Nicole Trujillo (11), Lendin Stell Santiago (12), and Thomas Mooy (11) received outstanding soloist awards.

Photo credit: Nicole Trujillo

Photo credit: Nicole Trujillo

The Dos Pueblos Jazz Choir after competing at the Reno Jazz Festival in Nevada. Jazz singers Nicole Trujillo (11), Lendin Stell Santiago (12), and Thomas Mooy (11) received outstanding soloist awards.

By Maya Al Sabeh, Features Editor

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Dos Pueblos High School’s very own Jazz Choir and Combo had the privilege of participating in the 54th annual Reno Jazz Festival this April in Nevada. The jazz festival which was held on the weekend of April 27-28 hosted over 300 groups featuring middle school, high school, and college students.

The vocal music group led by Courtney Anderson, DP vocal music teacher, and the jazz instrumental combo, led by director and mentor Dan Garske, both had successful runs at the competition this year.

For the jazz choir, this was the first year in quite some time that they received scores of all ones, the best possible score out of a five-point ranking. Hours and hours of preparation both in and out of school, as well as numerous workshops that were held with professionals and previously participating college choirs, were vital to their success.

The Dos Pueblos Jazz Choir is all smiles after receiving scores of ones for their performance. Photo credit: Nicole Trujillo

“We started coming in at 7 o’clock in the morning to get more stuff done, then we’d have 5th period as well as evening rehearsals on Thursday nights,” Anderson said. “Our old director Ed Jenkins along with Mr.Rose who retired last year and Cuesta College came and they all helped during our jam sessions.”

After weeks of preparation, the group set out to center stage where they would perform their set and await feedback from a designated set of judges. The choir performed jazz classics like “Keep My Supper Warm” by the Idea of North, “With Every Breath I Take” by Rachelle Ferrell and “Time After Time” by Cyndi Lauper.

With over 300 groups participating in the competition, there was a set stage time of 20 to 25 minutes for each group. Ironically, those 20 minutes felt like 20 seconds to the DP jazz choir.

“The actual competing time was only twenty-five minutes and it just goes by in a heartbeat,” Anderson said. “Like all those hours of rehearsal and then 20 minutes in the warm-up room and then you’re like ‘Ok it’s time’, then you get up on stage and..it’s over.”

For competing students like Katie Vineall, a senior at Dos Pueblos and fourth-year vocal musician, confidence was essential to a successful performance. After seeing their competitors perform, the students had a pretty good idea of what to expect.

“We actually watched their performances before we went, so we knew what they were going to sing and what they looked like, and what their weaknesses were,” Vineall said. “It got to the point where when we saw them onstage it was kind of like underwhelming because we had build them up in our heads so much.”

While receiving high scores of all ones was extremely gratifying for the team, Anderson believes that a valuable message learned about trust was the most beneficial and rewarding for team members.

“Learning about the trust that you have to have between your teammates when you go into it is key because you can’t do it alone,” Anderson said. “Everyone needs to be on the same level and willing to give it their all and be vulnerable on stage.”

The jazz choir’s experience competing was made all the more enjoyable with the support and encouragement of their fellow participants and instrumental musicians; the jazz combo.

The rhythm section of the jazz instrumental combo performed with the choir for a part of the competition, yet the band as a whole had performances of their own. Competing against 18 other bands in their division, the combo was determined to get positive results.

About two months prior to the competition, the jazz combo had been working on many charts and soloist songs that they hoped to feature in their performance.

“We played our more difficult charts that fall into the Jazz idiom, one of them was Armando’s Rumba by Chick Corea,” Garske said. “We featured a lot of soloists songs, so yeah we’ve been working on the charts for a long time, but then as we got closer to Reno we put in more effort on them.”

Constant dedication and practice were only two ingredients of success for the combo; the rest being abundant stamina and patience as they were necessary for their long performance time.

“We had about twenty-five minutes worth of music which is a long chunk of time,” Garske said. “So we basically had to play non-stop and we didn’t have breaks in between tunes.”

Unfortunately, the jazz combo did not place at the competition this year, but their efforts were not forgotten. Their very own Dan Garske could not have been more proud of their efforts as a team.

“Well they are a hugely talented group of musicians,” Garske said. “It’s been great to come in and work with such a great amount of talent.”

The rush and excitement of competition is awaiting both the jazz choir and combo for next year. As for now, the jazz choir is hoping to participate in the Reno Jazz Festival once again; however, the jazz combo itself is a little unsure. Rather, the instrumental group is looking forward to testing its musical abilities in a higher level competition.

“We aren’t allowed to say what it is,” Garske said. “But hopefully that will work out and I guess that will just be a surprise.”

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A Musically-Inclined Weekend for DP’s Jazz Choir and Instrumental Combo