SPOTSWOOD, NJ - Upbeat sounds of jazz classics like Count Basie's "Jumping at the Woodside" and Chicago's contemporary "25 or 6 to 4" got the toes tapping at the Spotswood High School's 12th annual District Band Night on January 19. The event began in 2005 as a way to bring together middle schoolers with members of the Spotswood High School music program. Seventh and eighth grade musicians from Spotswood's Memorial Middle School and Milltown's Joyce Kilmer School took the stage along with the SHS Jazz Band and Honors Wind Ensemble for an evening of delightful entertainment that gave future Chargers and their families a glimpse into the high school's successful and award-winning music program.
"The goal of this concert is to provide seventh and eighth grade students with the opportunity to experience high school band before they actually get here," Spotswood High School Band Director, Sarah Carino-Koza explained during her opening remarks. "It's also a wonderful opportunity for the students of both schools to meet future classmates."
The concert introduces middle schoolers to the high school's varied music program in a unique way. They join members of the Chargers' music program in a performance, which also gives parents a peek into what a typical band rehearsal is like for their children.
"This is going to give you a really good snapchat into what that's like," Carino-Koza said of a routine band rehearsal. "You'll see in a brief period of time what band directors try to do over many months to prepare for a concert."
Carino-Koza has been in charge of the school's music program for the past fourteen years. The high school has several musical options for students including Concert Band, Honors Wind Ensemble, Pep Band and Jazz Band. Students must audition to be a part of the Jazz Band and the Honors Wind Ensemble.
Dressed in the typical black and white band attire, members of the Memorial Middle School Jazz Band sat along side the Spotswood High School Jazz Band to open the show. Memorial School Band Director, Christina Restine conducted the students on "Jumping at the Woodside." It was the first time the two bands had played the piece together. Restine is a former student of Carino-Koza as well as Laureen Hengeli, the band director for Milltown's Joyce Kilmer School.
"Now I get to be on the same playing field with them as a colleague," Restine said of her former instructors, Carino-Koza and Hengeli. "This is always such a fun night for me. I love it so much."
Auditions for the Spotswood High School Jazz Band are held late in the fall. This was their first public performance since rehearsals began the week before winter break. They showed off their burgeoning prowess with James Brown's "Cold Sweat" and Chicago's "25 or 6 to 4." Andrew Faulkenberry and Kevin Ehresman showcased their musical talents with brief solos during the three song jazz set. Faulkenberry plays the trombone while Ehresman is a trumpet player.
After a brief intermission, members of both middle school bands took the main stage along with the Spotswood High School Honors Wind Ensemble to form a combined band. After the Wind Ensemble played John Higgins' "Serengeti" in its entirety, Carino-Koza worked through the piece, including the middle schoolers, allowing the audience to get a window into how an orchestra gets a musical selection performance ready. The entertaining and informative night concluded with the Honors Wind Ensemble performing "March of the Toys," which they played during the December 15 Winter Concert.