WARREN, NJ – Students and parents were treated to an array of some 16 numbers, some big band, some ensembles, some quartets, as well as some accompanied vocalists, at the Spring Jazz Concert at the Watchung Hills Regional High School (WHRHS) Performing Arts Center.

The student musicians and vocalists played and sang at times loud, at times soft, at times fast and at times slow, and the performances all culminated in an audience-encouraged encore that, in true jazz fashion, might have gone on indefinitely.

The evening featured performances by: The WHRHS Jazz Band; select ensembles, including the Brass Ensemble, the Soph Sax Quartet, the String Ensemble, the Sax Quartet, and the All-Star Dixieland Band; and three solo singing performances.

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WHRHS Instrumental Music Teacher Paul McCullen, who conducted the Jazz Band and played clarinet with the WHRHS All-Star Dixieland Band, said the smaller ensembles were organized, rehearsed and performed under the direction of the student members of the groups.

“The students really should be applauded for their contributions to this concert,” said McCullen. “We are encouraged to ‘Teach, Teach, Teach,’ and with a concert like this, we know it is working.”

Many of these same WHRHS student musicians and vocalists, and many more, will perform at the annual Spring Choral Concert, at 7 p.m., Tuesday, June 6, and/or at the Spring Instrumental Concert, at 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 7, in the PAC. The concerts are part of the school’s Spring Arts Festival, June 5-7. The general public is invited.

Jazz Concert Line-up

The Jazz Band opened the Jazz Concert playing four selections: “Moanin’,” by Charlie Mingus; “Sophisticated Lady,” by Duke Ellington; “Libertango,” by Astor Piazzola; and “Hunting Wabbits,” by Gordon Goodwin. The last selection was a piece inspired by the arrangements for “Looney Tunes” cartoon classics of the 1940s and 1950s, McCullen explained.

After the ensemble and solo performances were completed, the Jazz Concert returned to center stage for three memorable selections: “Jelly Roll,” by Charlie Mingus; “Moon River,” by Mancini and Mercer; and “Sing, Sing, Sing,” by Louis Prima.

The Moon River arrangement departed from the wistful dreaminess that helped make an iconic classic of the Audrey Hepburn film, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” in favor of a brighter mid-speed arrangement.

And that led into “Sing, Sing, Sing,” which brought high energy to the stage, fueled by several blistering solo turns by a numberof the student musicians on brass instruments, as well as Calvan Davis on drums. 

Davis’ mini-drum solo fills added exclamation points at phrase endings throughout the piece, the sum total of which resulted in a standing ovation by the audience. Calls for “more” could also be heard from the ensemble musicians gathered off-stage, who were marveling at the entire Jazz Band’s performance on the number. 

The Jazz Band members jumped at the opportunity to take up Maestro McCullen’s suggestion that the band do a total repeat of the song. When even that appeared not to be enough, McCullenand the band seemed to create an extended concert version of the iconic classic, “Sing, Sing, Sing,” adding multiple passages, more solos and more of Davis’ explosive drum fills. As the sound and stage crew took the stage and the audience was filing out the PAC, there were still some student musicians gathered around the piano and drum kit, mixing up trumpet and saxophone fills and trills, piano passages, and crashing cymbals and thunderous drum variations.

Ensembles, Solo Performers, Band Members

The Brass Ensemble performed “Scherzo,” by Gustav Holst and “Canzon Per Sonare #2,” by Giovanni Gabrieli. The student members of the brass Ensemble are: Carl Peterson, Ryan Branco, Taylor Restvik, Jack Horan and Ethan Marmolejos.

The Soph Sax Quartet performed “Irish Suite,” by Elliot Del Borgo. The student members of the Soph Sax Quartet are: Shay Parimoo, Clement Shao, Tyler Horvath and Brandon Tang.

The String Ensemble performed “Pirates of the Caribbean: Complete Suite of Music from the Movies.” The student members are: Emma Golkin, Zoe Golkin, Bolai Lin, Carter Rosen and Spencer Shao. 

The Sax Quartet performed “Fly Me to the Moon,” by BartHoward. The student members are: Andrew Morrison, Emilie Ricciardi, Sanjay Subramanian and Timothe Iroudayassamy.

The All-Star Dixieland Band performed “Just a Closer Walk with Thee,” the traditional Gospel song frequently played as part of the hymn and dirge section of traditional New Orleans jazz funerals, and “American Patrol,” the traditional patriotic song often played in a package with Just a Closer Walk with Thee. The student members are: Sanjay Subramanian on Tenor Sax, Brandon Huang on Trumpet, Jack Horn on Trombone, Ethan Marmolejos on Tuba, and Calvan Davis on Drums.

The solo performances were by: 

Sarah Kelly, who sang “No One Else,” from the currentBroadway Musical, “Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812,” which was just nominated for a dozen Tony Awards.

Rhiannon Barone, who sang, “Dreams,” the 1977 song by Fleetwood Mac, accompanied on guitar by her mother, WHRHS Board of Education member Rita Barone; and

Anthony Speros, who sang “Dust in the Wind,” the 1972 song by Todd Rundgren. Speros accompanied himself on the piano.

The members of the Jazz Band are: 

Alto Sax, Andrew Morrison, Emilie Ricciardi, Sanjay Subramanian, and Timothe Iroudayassamy; Tenor Sax, AndresMarquez and Wyatt Mejia; Bari Sax, James Narayanan and Sean Witmaack; Piano, Bryan Boretz, and Kevin Wittmaack; Drums Set, Calvan Davis and Matthew Renzo; also

Trumpet, Brandon Huang, Arjun Mahal, Carl Peterson, Matthew Schaefer, and Joshua Schmidt; Trombone, Jack Horan, Vincent Lesaca, Cristina Sarrico and Christopher Strona; Guitar, Ben Kosakowski; and Bass, Kyle Merritts and Brady Pilsbury.

 

WHRHS PHOTOS Finale Jazz Concert

Performing the encore song, “Sing, Sing, Sing,” by Louis Prima, at the Watchung Hills Regional High School (WHRHS) Spring Jazz Concert, Friday, April 28,  is the 24-member WHRHS Jazz Band. Students and parents were treated to an array of some 16 numbers at the concert, some big band, some ensembles, some quartets, as well as some accompanied vocalists. At times the musicians and vocalists played loud, at times soft, at times fast and at times slow --- all leading to this audience-encouragedencore.

 

WHRHS PHOTOS Jazz Backstage

Off-stage at the Spring Jazz Concert, Friday, April 28, at the WHRHS Performing Arts Center (PAC), the Jazz Band were excited about their seven pieces contributed to the 16-number concert. The evening also featured performances by: Several select ensembles, including the Brass Ensemble, the Soph Sax Quartet, the String Ensemble, the Sax Quartet, and the All-Star Dixieland Band; and three solo singing performances.

 

WHRHS PHOTOS Brass Ensemble

The student-organized Brass Ensemble, featured, from left,  Carl Peterson and Ryan Branco on trumpet, Ethan Marmolejos on tuba, Tayor Hestvik on horn, and Jack Horan on Trombone. They performed “Scherzo,” by Gustav Holst and “Canzon PerSonare #2,” by Giovanni Gabrieli.

 

WHRHS PHOTOS String Ensemble

The Sting Ensemble performed “Pirates of the Caribbean: Complete Suite of Music from the Movies.” The student members are, from left: Spencer Shao on Cello, and on violin, Zoe Golkin, Emma Golkin, Bolai Lin, and Carter Rosen.

 

WHRHS PHOTOS Soph Sax Quintet

The Soph Sax Quartet performed “Irish Suite,” by Elliot Del Borgo. The student members of the Soph Sax Quartet are: Tyler Horvath, Clement Shao, Shray Parimoo, and Brandon Tang.

 

WHRHS PHOTOS Rhiannon Barone

Student Rhiannon Barone, right, sang “Dreams,” the 1977 song by Fleetwood Mac, accompanied on guitar by her mom, WHRHS Board of Education Member Rita Barone.

 

WHRHS PHOTOS Sarah Kelly

Student Sarah Kelly sang “No One Else,” from the Broadway musical, Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812, which has just been nominated for 14 Tony Awards.

 

WHRHS PHOTOS Anthony Speros

Student Anthony Speros accompanied himself on piano, singing “Dust in the Wind,” a 1972 song by Todd Rundgren at the 2017 Spring Jazz Concert