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South Portland High School Jazz Bands take Honors at Recent Festival

posted Mar 28, 2017, 10:53 AM by Paul Lefebvre   [ updated Mar 28, 2017, 10:55 AM ]

The Maine High School Instrumental Jazz Festival, hosted by Nokomis High School on March 17 & 18, 2017, brought schools from across the State to a two day festival of music and competition.  Competing in small combos and large ensembles, students were adjudicated by professional jazz musicians and jazz educators.

South Portland High School brought two Jazz Combos and two Jazz Ensembles to the festival under the direction of Craig Skeffington, In addition, SPHS brought home top awards in many categories.

Under a newly adjudicated system, which awards gold (95 or above), silver (90-94) and bronze (85-89) medals to bands for achieving appropriate scores, the first day of performances saw both the South Portland H.S. Jazz Band II and Combo B awarded silver medals.  Receiving an Outstanding Musicianship Award for Jazz Band II was sophomore Alex Rowell on tenor saxophone, and receiving the inaugural Dale Huff Superior Musicianship Award for Combo B on trombone, sophomore Max Saffer-Meng.  Later in the day, Combo A was awarded a gold medal and honored two Outstanding Musicianship awards…one to junior Thomas Costin on piano and another to senior Owen Doane on trombone.

The second day of the festival featured the South Portland High School Jazz Ensemble playing in the afternoon with hopes of qualifying for a trip to play in the evening’s showcase of gold medal bands.  Living up to stellar jazz performances in the past, the SPHS Jazz Ensemble was awarded a gold medal for their performance and three musicianship awards.  Recognized for Outstanding Musicianship Awards on lead trumpet, junior Jesse Pearlman, on alto and soprano saxophones, senior Ellen Stanton and awarded the Dale Huff Superior Musicianship Award on trombone was senior Owen Doane.

The evening’s performance showcased 6 gold medal bands, qualifying from a field of 33 jazz ensemble groups.  The newly designed night kicked off with a performance by the Portland Jazz Orchestra. Taking the stage after PJO were gold medal performers, beginning with the SPHS jazz ensemble who entertained the crowd, playing three songs. Kicking off the program with Surfin’ the Big Wave, written by Craig Skeffington, a ballad, Lifelong Friends, by Kris Berg and a crowd favorite, Gaea by Nate Kimball.  Other gold medal performers were, George Stevens Academy, Greely H.S., Hampden Academy, Old Town H.S. and Westbrook H.S.