Samo’s jazz band and jazz combo participated in the 43rd Annual Berklee College of Music’s High School Jazz Festival in Boston on the weekend of March 5-6. Under the direction of SMMUSD Visual and Performing Arts coordinator Tom Whaley, the musicians placed first in the highest division.
“We virtually swept the festival,” Whaley said.
In addition to placing first as a group, two Samo students — seniors Jake Noveck and Steven Gordon — were selected as the top soloists among all the thousands of musicians at the festival. Sophomore Eli Brown also received an award, for “Outstanding Musicianship” as the group’s lead trumpet player.
According to Whaley, Samo was also awarded seven 50 percent scholarships to the five-week summer jazz program at Berklee College of Music due to their commanding performance at the festival.
“No other high school has done that in years,” Whaley said.
As part of the winning prize, the winners from each division performed in the Hynes Convention Center in Boston.
“Because we won, we got to perform in front of a huge audience at the Winner’s Showcase Concert,” Brown said. “It honestly couldn’t have been a more perfect trip. Everything that could’ve gone right, went right.”
Three hundred bands composed of 3,000 students from around the country attended the festival.
All musicians performed for judges from the Berklee College of Music. They were placed in one of six divisions, determined by the size of the school’s student body. Samo competed in division oneq, the highest and most competitive division.
According to Whaley, Samo placed above the best bands in the country, including past winners.
Whaley expressed immense pride in the group’s accomplishments.
“It is the pinnacle of my teaching life. It’s the highest achievement I’ve ever had,” Whaley said.
- “Outstanding musicianship” award
- 1st place – Soloist in Big Band
- 2nd place – Soloist in Jazz Combo
- 1st place – Soloist in Jazz Combo
- 2nd place – Soloist in Big Band