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Shepherd hosts annual jazz festival

By Staff | Mar 6, 2011

Martinsburg High School Jazz Band Director James Southern leads the band during its performance. For more photos, visit cu.journal-news.net. (Ogden Newspaper photo by Chris Jackson)

The Frank Center at Shepherd University rang with jazz music Saturday during the annual Jazz Festival for regional bands.

Fifteen middle and high school bands performed in the event and hoped for a Superior rating. Jefferson High School Band Director JP Lynch said it was the biggest festival in more than 20 years.

“Tomorrow they’ll have the state festival. If a band gets a Superior rating here, they’ll get the recording of their performance today sent to judges for the state competition. The judges will choose a Jazz Band Honor Finalist,” Lynch said.

JHS has won eight Jazz Band Honor Finalist titles in the past.

“This festival’s not about picking a state champion though. … Every band has the potential of earning a Superior rating,” he added. “It’s more about education.”

Three judges reviewed the bands and provided feedback about each band’s strengths and weaknesses.

Mark Albright, Hedgesville Middle School band director, said his band performed earlier that morning.

“The kids did an excellent job and worked really hard,” Albright said. “They’ve been pushing really hard all week and have definitely shown improvement in their work ethic.”

The HMS band received a Superior rating for their performance.

During the award ceremony for middle school bands, high school students waited to play. Martinsburg High School junior Jacob Greenfield said he wasn’t nervous.

“Last year we were the Jazz Band Honor Finalist for West Virginia so we’re hoping to get that again this year, but if not, we’ll still be happy with a Superior rating,” Greenfield said.

Fellow band member Alex Wasson said the MHS band received a Superior rating last weekend at Hedgesville High School.

“We have a really good show,” Wasson said. “With last week’s rating, that’s a confidence booster, of course.”

Shepherd University hosted the festival, and the university’s band closed the event with their own performance. Shepherd University Band Director Kurtis Adams said the festival was a musical success.

“We’ve seen a ton of really good, young jazz musicians out there playing,” Adams said. “They’re having fun and they sound great.”