Princeton prepares for 11th annual jazz festival

(From left to right) Zoe O’Beirne ’19, Naomi Barrales ’19, Ashvick Awasthi ’17, and Selia Gupta ’18 practice in the PAC, where they performed for the NJ state final competition. They will perform again this Friday and Saturday with the PHS bands at Princeton’s Jazz. photo by <span class="credit credit- "><a href="/credit/"Aaron/" title="View all of this person's work">"Aaron</a></span>

(From left to right) Zoe O’Beirne ’19, Naomi Barrales ’19, Ashvick Awasthi ’17, and Selia Gupta ’18 practice in the PAC, where they performed for the NJ state final competition. They will perform again this Friday and Saturday with the PHS bands at Princeton’s Jazz.
photo by Aaron Wu

The 11th annual Princeton Jazz Festival will be held in the PHS’s PAC, where multiple high school and middle school bands from New Jersey will compete for a variety of awards. The participants will be playing a preselected repertoire of music, and the event will also include a performances by famous trumpeter Randy Brecker and saxophonist Ada Rovatti. PHS’s music instructors, Mr. Joseph Bongiovi and Mr. Scott Grimaldi, will be performing with the high school’s six bands noncompetitively, while other local bands from middle schools such as John Witherspoon and Cranbury will be competing against each other. Multiple bands from all across New Jersey have been preparing for this event as well.

Every year, the Jazz Festival is held for performing bands across New Jersey to demonstrate their skill level and improve their musical education and experience.

“There’s no education like this unless you go to a big festival,” Bongiovi says. “It’s … mostly about the surrounding community that doesn’t have the resources that we do. When we bring in these communicators and guest artists, [it] allows the surrounding schools to participate.” As well as being open to the surrounding schools, the Princeton Jazz Festival is also the only one that includes a day devoted to middle school performances.

“Not only is it a tradition to have only every year, but Mr. Bongiovi makes a great point of featuring a lot of middle school bands,” Pollack says.

“Our festival is the largest educational festival in New Jersey, so it gives the students feedback from independent judges who will listen to their performance and give them grades,” Bongiovi says. “[It] also does backstage competition, or adjudication of sight reading and improvisation

Many of the band directors and students believe that because of the inclusion of the middle school band day, many of the young musicians will be more immersed in performing once they get to an older age.

“…Tthe community aspect of the festival is a great learning experience for kids …  especially at Princeton, the entire sight reading room and improv room offers a unique opportunity for middle school kids to test their skills,.” said Mr. Cesar Rainho, one of the directors of the Cranbury Middle School Jazz Band.

The festival will be held on April 28 and 29, tickets are 5 dollars for students and 10 dollars for adults.

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