Semiahmoo musicians scoop jazz awards

Semiahmoo Secondary may not have claimed all top spots in this month’s Envision Jazz Festival – but the school claimed many group and individual awards at the 29th annual event,.

According to music department director Dave Fullerton, it’s shaping up to be a banner year for school musicians – including production of a DVD featuring all the performance groups in March, a trip to New York City in April and a huge contingent representing the school at MusicFest Canada in Richmond in May.

The Envision festival, held at the Sheraton Guildford Hotel and the Bell Centre for the Performing Arts Feb. 10-12, is the largest such event in Canada and draws school bands from all over the Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island and Washington State.

Semiahmoo’s Jazz Band 10, under the direction of Dagan Lowe, was chosen most outstanding junior band of the festival, as well as most outstanding Surrey junior band.

And while Jazz Band 12, also directed by Lowe, did not claim most outstanding senior band (an honour that went to Kwalikum Secondary from Qualicum Beach) it was among the top four bands selected to perform in the senior evening showcase.

“They performed very well and were selected as top Surrey jazz band,” noted Fullerton.

In all, Semiahmoo entered five jazz bands and four jazz combos.

Of the four top junior bands chosen to perform at a Bell Centre showcase, two were from Semiahmoo: Jazz Band 9, directed by Fullerton, and Jazz Band 10.

Fullerton also congratulated Grade 8 jazz musicians for their first-ever festival appearance. 

“Although Jazz Band 8 is two years young in their category, they were still on the leader board for a portion of the competition,” he said. “They were also the largest jazz band at the festival.” 

The Skepasts family was well represented in junior awards, with Matt Skepasts chosen best junior drummer and Andrew Skepasts chosen best junior soloist.

In other junior awards for musicians from Surrey School District, Richard Roberts was best saxophone soloist, Annie Chien was best vibraphone soloist, Choenden Kyirong was best trombone soloist, Adrian Michael was best piano soloist and Jazz Band 10 was recognized for best rhythm section.

Senior awards for Surrey students went to Jazz Band 11’s Karan Mattu, Alex Fraser, Marshal Herridge, Anca Dobre, Chris Young and Trevor Peverley (who was also named best overall soloist) as best rhythm section; Alex Sandvoss as top saxophone soloist, and Jack Chia as top trombone soloist, 

Ania Zazycki was the recipient of an Affinity Tours cash scholarship for $500, Tanner Anslow received a Kwantlen University scholarship, and Alex Fraser received a Peninsula Arts Foundation scholarship for $350.

Upcoming for the musicians is the recording of the DVD, which will include a session with all the school’s concert bands at the Bell Centre on March 10 (admission by donation), to be followed shortly after by a session with all five jazz bands at White Rock’s Blue Frog Studios. The DVD is expected to be available for sale in April.

Also that month, 155 music students in four performance groups will travel to New York to participate in clinics at the Lincoln Centre of the Arts, and also performances at a top fine arts high school.

At MusicFest, Semiahmoo will field 10 performance groups – a total of 275 musicians to represent the community, Fullerton said. 

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