Walking into the Valparaiso High School auditorium, I prepared myself to be blown away. The VHS Band was hosting Senior Jazz Concert in which VHS seniors showcased their musical abilities, ranging from alto saxophone to vocal performances. And let's just say, being 'blown away' was an understatement.
The concert featured the VHS Jazz Ensemble, Studio Jazz, Lab Jazz, and Jazz Combo. These different bands accompanied several senior soloists. Some of the seniors who gave solo performances include Ashley Smith, Josh Turner, Kyle Balmer, Morgan Green, Kyle Vittetoe, Zack Sutton, Andrew Walits, Nathan McChesney, Sam Baker, Kendall Holesinger, Jacob Weirman, and Joshua Abatie. There was also a raffle for a beautifully hand crafted chair, which was made by Scott Sutton, a VHS band student's parent.
After introducing the players, Miguel Rosario-Vega, Director of Bands, started the concert on a positive note. They opened the concert up with Gumbo Caliente, a playful and upbeat melody. The concert consisted a plethora of different tunes, ranging from Keys to the Heart to Eleanor Rigby. While many classic jazz songs were performed, the VHS Jazz band wasn't afraid to add their own twist.
"This concert is merely an opportunity for seniors to illustrate their skills on the big stage. They get to pick the tune at they will be featuring, and it gives them that front stage experience." Rosario-Vega stated.
Many of the musicians play a variety of instruments. For example, senior Ashley Smith, who was the first solo of the night, has learned to play three instruments during her involvement in VHS Bands. She will be attending Valparaiso University this coming fall, hoping to continue to pursue her love of music.
"This senior class is terrific. This is my first year as Director of Bands, and they have been extremely helpful during performances and in the classroom. They're also so busy with other extracurricular- basketball, football, cheerleading, but they're very good about helping during pep-rally's and football games. They have done a great job setting to tone for the other younger students to see what's expected from them as they grow older within the program," stated Rosario-Vega.
Here is the complete VHS Jazz Band Roster:
Saxophones: Jacob Wierman, Joshua Abatie, Kendall Holesinger, Michael Girman, Mallory Krown, Ally Runion, Gregory Heskett, Kathryn Berger, Timothy Henderson, Kyle Balmer, Ashley Smith, Kate Grogan, Shannon Hahn, and Chris Zart
Trumpets: Nate McChesney, Brian Gonzalez, Cadie Miller, Jackie Keenan, Morgan Green, Grayson Woods, Abby Mitchell, Elizabeth Bell, Morgan Green, Brandon Brychell, and Meagan Hale
Guitar: Chris Zart, Tristan Slavin, and J.P. Kunze
Trombones: Zach Sutton, Kelly Adams, Eric Hess, Mary Cobble, Nicole Huth, Val Keenan, Ava Massarella, Dominic Davis, Nate Snyder, Adrien Martin, and Brian Karr
Piano: Natalie Gruszka, Jena Dambek, Luke Brown, Olivia Rosario, and Elise Lee
Bass: Andrew Walits, Kyle Vittetoe, and Robert Gallowich
Drums: Caleb Owens, Sam Baker, Josh Turner, Nathan Bongard, Mark Small, Ian Norris, and Brianna Johnson