On February 11, students from all around the country gathered in the Hynes Convention Center in Boston, Massachusetts, to celebrate their love of jazz at the Berklee Music Festival. Though not consecutively, this was the 17th year that PHS had competed in the festival.
Studio Band, PHS’s top band, had a well-varied setlist prepared for the event, including the crown jewel of the selection, a personally commissioned piece from Drew Zaremba entitled “Kitchen Sink.” Zaremba is an arranger, conductor, composer, and performer. Studio Band has played his pieces for the last five years, which is why he was invited by the PHS Band Program.
Commissioning a piece specifically for Studio Band was a first for the band program. When Zaremba asked for instructions, Mr. Joe Bongiovi, director of Studio Band and Studio Vocals, just told him to “make it as hard as possible.”
“We didn’t give him a lot of direction,” said Bongiovi,. “We didn’t want to stifle his creativity.”
The result was exactly what he asked for ― a challenging piece with meter changes, switching styles, and other difficulties. Mr. Bongiovi also revealed the story behind the unusual name: “Everything is thrown in, like the kitchen sink.”
Studio Vocals showed the vocal side of the PHS band program in their performance. This ensemble is comprised of singers within the band program, including people who participate in both band and choir. In addition to Studio Vocals, singer Maisie Ryle ’18 placed 2nd in the Individual Singer Showcase.
Jazz Ensemble, directed by Scott Grimaldi, performed three pieces: a swing, a ballad, and a Latin piece in a noncompetitive category.
The trip provided many learning experiences including exposure to other musicians from around the country and world.
“It’s fun to mingle with people who share the same passion as you,” Naomi Barrales ’19 and member of Jazz Ensemble said.
This connection went both ways, as band members were excited to share their music with the rest of the competitors.
“It’s different from playing in the auditorium with parents who will tell you ‘good job,’” Bongiovi said. “It’s sharing what we do with people from around the world who are into what we do. We showcase what we can do, literally, to the world.”