Arts & Entertainment

Spotswood High School Music Program Showcases Their Winning Ways

Spotswood High School Band Director Sarah Carino-Koza introduces an evening of toe-tapping music at the school's annual Spring Concert. Credits: Dawn Miller
Emmanuel Solano explains the intriguing music behind the Percussion Ensemble. Credits: Dawn Miller
Sean Wesen plays the pizza box during "Nola" while Andrew Faulkenberry plays the xylophone. Credits: Dawn Miller
Devin Ryan sings vocals in an entertaining performance of "Girl From Ipanema." Credits: Dawn Miller
Stephen Gardner performs a solo on his alto saxophone. Credits: Dawn Miller
The Spotswood High School Concert Band performs at their annual Spring Concert. Credits: Dawn Miller
The Spotswood High School Wind Ensemble was named the Best Band at the Cleveland Festivals of Music. Credits: Dawn Miller

SPOTSWOOD, NJ - In April, Spotswood High School's Concert, Jazz and Wind Ensemble all claimed first place at the Cleveland Festivals of Music. On Thursday, May 11, all three bands showed why they achieved top honors at the school's annual Spring Concert. Under the direction of Band Director Sarah Carino-Koza, the bands entertained the audience with an engaging mix of music that showcased their talent and range. The event also included a unique percussion ensemble that was directed by a former product of the Spotswood School District music program, Emmanuel Solano.

Solano was born and raised in Spotswood until he moved to Piscataway after his freshman year at Spotswood High School. However, Solano returned to teach a percussion class to three talented teens this winter that included Devin Ryan, Andrew Faulkenberry and Sean Wesen. The three spent Friday afternoons learning about different percussion styles. Obviously, the pilot program was a success, judging by the fun performance that included "Nola" and "Girl From Ipanema." Ryan sang vocals on the popular island-inspired song.

The evening of music was divided into four segments that began with the Percussion Ensemble that was directed by Solano. The Jazz Band took center stage next, performing "Sister Sadie" and "Birdland." Both pieces were festive and delightful, featuring solos by several members of the Jazz Band.

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After a brief intermission, the Concert Band played three tunes that highlighted their musical talent. An arrangement of "Air from County Derry" or "Danny Boy" was especially noteworthy. The final performance of the evening belonged to the Wind Ensemble who showed why they earned Best Band honors at the ClevelandFestivals of Music. Junior Stephen Gardner played an alto saxophone solo on the always poignant "Amazing Grace."

Graduating seniors were acknowledged by Carino-Koza in their final performance at Spotswood High School. While she noted her sadness at their departure as well as well wishes for the next chapter of their lives, the long-time band director also recognized the younger members of the bands that definitely displayed musical chops while hinting at continued success for the band program.

Down the hall from the SHS Cafetorium, the Fine Arts and Graphic Design Departments held their annual Spring Art Show. Many members of the music program also had pieces displayed in the creative show. From music to art, May 11 was a wonderfully delightful showcase of the beauty and inspiration of the arts at Spotswood High School as well as the joy both bring to the community.

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