Nanaimo’s Wellington Secondary School jazz program made its mark at an international festival last weekend with five groups and individual students finishing first in their categories.
On Feb. 28 and 29, Wellington competed against nearly 100 schools from B.C., Idaho, Washington, Oregon and Montana at the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival at the University of Idaho. The festival program says more than 5,000 students attend each year.
Baritone saxophonist Sandro Jost won for Junior Instrumental Solo, Wellington Grade 9 Jazz Combo I was the top Junior Instrumental Combo, the Mottahedeh/Dobek/Morosan Trio took the A Jazz Combos category, Wellington Grade 10 Jazz Combo I took top prize for B Jazz Combos and the Interschool Trio, featuring students from Wellington and the Lower Mainland’s Collingwood and Semiahmoo Secondary Schools, was named the best AAA Combo.
“I think we performed and received really extraordinary results especially in comparison to the U.S. schools because most of the students there start band in Grade 4, whereas the majority of Wellington students start band either in Grade 7 or 8,” Wellington band director Carmella Luvisotto said.
Wellington also finished with eight runners-up: The Wellington Grade 9 Jazz Band, Wellington Grade 9 Jazz Combo II, the Wellington Semiahmoo Combo, Wellington Grade 10 Jazz Combo II and individual students Philip Morosan on baritone saxophone, Cameron Boudrot on guitar, Petra Dobek on piano and Daniel Mottahedeh on drums.
Luvisotto said multi-school groups the Interschool Trio and Wellington Semiahmoo Combo were formed by some of her “keen” senior-level students.
“They’ve travelled to Vancouver to practise with the other students and they put a group together, which is a really neat collaboration between our schools and our students,” she said. “It’s neat to see that my students are branching out with [like-minded] people that want to work hard and progress in music.”