Musicians gather at JDHS for music fest

This year, it's the capital city's turn to host the massive musical gathering

Posted: Thursday, April 22, 2004

The song was "Anything Goes," the goal anything but.

Fine-tuning footwork, coordinating cutoffs, members of the Juneau-Douglas High School Jazz Choir sometimes treaded a thin line between polish and spontaneity as they prepared Wednesday for one of their biggest performances of the year.

Hundreds of musicians from a dozen Southeast schools are gathering at JDHS today through Saturday for the annual Southeast Alaska Music Festival.

The event rotates between Juneau, Ketchikan and Sitka. This year, it's the capital city's turn to host the massive band, orchestra and choir gathering.

Soloists, ensembles and large groups will be judged, and the guest adjudicators also will offer a number of clinics over the three-day event.

One of the many groups on the schedule is the JDHS Jazz Choir.

The jazz choir was hand-picked from the JDHS Concert Choir - itself an audition-only group - and the jazz singers are "the cream of the crop," director Alice Tubley said. They get to delve deep into their music.

"In jazz choir, you get to work with a smaller group and get to feel the music more," said sophomore Audra Ray, who will be participating in her first Music Fest. "It's more intimate."

While they focus on the songs, the group has also added choreography to their performance. During "In the Mood," for example, Ray and Justin McCown get to perform a swing dance. Tubley said she added the movement to give some variety to her students' musical experience.

In addition to jazz choir, sophomore T.J. Merry will be performing 10 other times this weekend with various choir and band ensembles. He's also housing four Sitka musicians. But he said the effort is worth it.

"All year, in band class or choir class, it's like, 'I have to do this for music fest,'" he said. "This is the whole point for classes. People come and critique you, and they're people who care about music.

"I enjoy having people who enjoy music around."

The annual festival is a time to make new friendships and renew old ones.

"It's a great experience for the kids," JDHS band director Ken Guiher said. "Smaller schools get a chance to hear larger schools play, and larger schools get to hear smaller schools play. (And) it's just an opportunity to get to know each other. ...

"It's like family. (The students) all know each other and their abilities, and they love to share their music."

Large-group concerts and adjudications will be held in the auditorium each evening from 6 p.m. until about 10 p.m., and are open to the public. There is a $5 admission fee.

The evening concert lineup includes, in order of performance:

• Tonight: Metlakatla Concert Choir, Juneau Mixed Choir, Klawock Band, Wrangell Concert Band, Petersburg Concert Choir, Juneau String Orchestra, Juneau Intermediate Band, Sitka Symphonic Band.

• Friday: Mount Edgecumbe Concert Choir, Juneau Concert Choir, Haines Band, Juneau Chamber Orchestra, Haines Choir, Sitka Concert Choir, Juneau Concert Band, Ketchikan Wind Ensemble.

• Saturday: Craig Concert Band, Hoonah Band, Mount Edge-cumbe/Metlakatla Concert Band, Petersburg Concert Band, Wrangell Concert Choir, Ketchikan Concert Choir, Skagway Concert Band, Juneau Wind Ensemble.

Each night's concert will be interspersed with "command" performances - top solo or ensemble groups, selected by the judges from performances earlier in the day.

The jazz band/choir concert/adjudication will be held Saturday morning from 8 a.m. to noon., with the following groups in order: Wrangell Jazz Band, Hoonah Jazz Band, Petersburg Jazz Band, Sitka Jazz Band, Juneau Jazz Choir, Ketchikan Jazz Choir, Sitka Jazz Choir, Ketchikan Jazz Band, Skagway Jazz Band, Juneau Jazz Band.

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