March 17, 2023 by Brian Martin, Band Director at Derby Academy
On March 10th and 11th, four students from Derby Academy participated in the SouthEastern Massachusetts Junior Honor Music Festival as a part of the Festival Jazz Band. Students Hank Ader, Grace Chen, Griffin Kelleher, and Nate Ward joined 15 other students from the region under the direction of Falmouth Band Director Sarah Wheeler for rehearsals and a performance at Sharon High School. Ader was a member of the trombone section while Chen, Kelleher, and Ward were in the rhythm section playing bass, guitar, and drums. The students shared the bus to Sharon with Hingham Public Schools both days, before beginning the rehearsal process.
The students rehearsed for six hours on Friday, putting together four different arrangements in four distinct genres. On the program was Herbie Hancock’s “Chameleon”, Larry Neeck’s “5.4 on the Richter Scale”, Paul Baker’s “Samba de los Estrellas” and Scott Stanton’s “Second Line Sadie.” Ader and Kelleher were featured on “Chameleon” and “Sadie”, while Kelleher was also given some solo space on “los Estrellas”. Ward had moments in the spotlight on “Sadie” and “los Estrellas” as well. Chen, Kelleher, and Ward were also featured throughout the performance while fulfilling their role as members of the rhythm section, providing the groove and harmony for the rest of the band to improvise over. Ader had the first improvised solo of the concert, opening with an assertive four bar phrase and setting the tone for the rest of the performance.
On Saturday, the students had another three hours of rehearsal and soundcheck before their performance at 1 PM. Their concert was shared with the Festival Treble and Concert Choruses, each consisting of 80 different singers. At 3 PM was the second Festival concert, featuring the Honors Concert Band and Orchestra, with 100 and 80 members, respectively.
Beyond the students’ musical successes, they were wonderful ambassadors for the school and community.
This is Derby Academy’s tenth consecutive year with students attending the festival.