Wellington Secondary School students picked up nine medals and numerous individual honours at the MusicFest Canada national jazz band festival in Ottawa last month.
“I was very, very happy for the students,” Wellington band director Carmella Luvisotto said. “They’ve been working so hard before school, after school, weekends, and all the time they put in has really paid off for them.”
The 25-student delegation was Nanaimo’s only representation at the event, having qualified at the West Coast Jazz Festival at VIU on April 30 and May 1.
According to its website, MusicFest Canada draws more than 10,000 elementary, high school and post secondary student each year. Rather than competing against each other, the musicians compete to a standard.
“Nationals are tough. It’s a very high calibre of competition and I just tell the students, ‘You do your best and the results will unfold as they do,’” Luvisotto said.
The Wellington Grade 11/12 Jazz Band, Grade 11 Combo, JPRD Combo, Motehedeh/Uslu/Dobek Trio and Sr. Quartet each earned gold medals, while the Grade 12 Combo, Grade 10/11 Quartet, Trombone Trio and Sr. Quintet were awarded the silver.
Eleven students took home honour awards and received other individual distinctions.
Grade 12 trombonist Mico Valmonte and guitarist Nathan Spivey were chosen to perform in the 18-member National Honour Jazz Band, Grade 11 student Daniel Motthedeh was named Canadian Big Band Drummer of the Year and Grade 12 saxophonist Peter Kang won a full scholarship to the Douglas College Jazz Camp in New Westminster.
In 2018 Wellington sent one group to nationals and four of those students were back to compete again this year. But for the remaining 21 musicians it was completely new.
“The rest of the students have never been and so it was a really rewarding experience for them and especially for the Grade 11s because now for next year they’re like, ‘We want to make sure we can make it to the nationals next year and go again,’” Luvisotto said.
MusicFest Canada 2020 takes place in Calgary.