Historically, the month of May seems to be one of the busiest months of the school year; and it’s somewhat relieving to see some of that normal busyness return this year! Spring sports and music programs are keeping our athletic and music departments very busy – not to mention, many Jenison families are involved in both programs.
First, a recognition of the honor our district has received by once again being named one of the ‘Best Communities for Music Education’. This continued esteem is a reflection of all the hardworking faculty and staff, student and parent support given to our music programs through the years. The efforts in this program make it one of the things that truly helps Jenison Public Schools stand apart.
On a near nightly basis for the past few weeks, our student musicians filled the Jenison Center for the Arts auditorium with the gift of spectacular music.
The Junior High and High School choirs had been absent from the stage for way too long. It was an awesome collection of concerts as they performed new and traditional pieces showcasing the range of their talent. One of the most touching pieces of this time of year is the JJHS Girls choir performing their traditional medley of service songs to honor our military service men and women.
Jenison Choirs award a scholarship recognizing two graduating seniors who give of their time, talent, and dedication to the choir program, but are not looking to be in the spotlight for solos or other individualized performances. It was an honor to see the ‘Unsung Hero Scholarship’ presented to Carmine Sabatini and Riley Volkema.
With virtual schooling and other challenges they have had to adapt to, the choir students are also ending the year with knowledge and skills in the music production and editing tools as well as strong and unified choral vocal skills. You can enjoy the performances of this year through the Jenison Choirs YouTube page.
The Elementary Choir also produced a very special virtual performance this year. Check out their amazing message while you enjoy their talent.
The Junior High and High School Band groups (Concert Band, Symphonic Band, Wind Symphony, Jazz Band and Percussion Ensemble) were all very busy with performances this spring as well.
One highlight of the spring band concerts was the High School Wind Symphony as they gave the world premiere performance of a new piece entitled “Horror Vacui”. This was a piece written by Michigan composer, Andrew David Perkins. Composed to emulate the film scores of both classic and contemporary horror movies, the piece was exceptionally challenging to prepare and perform – especially given this year’s performer constraints of masks, bell covers, and six foot spacing in rehearsal and on stage. Under the direction of Dave Zamborsky, the students took on all the challenges and presented a breath taking performance.
The Jenison High School Bands also present three distinguished awards at the conclusion of their season.
Across the nation, the John Philip Sousa band award is considered the most prestigious award given in recognition of outstanding achievement and interest in instrumental music. The recipient of this year’s John Philip Sousa band award is Matt Keith.
The Jenison Band Directors’ Award is given to a senior who has contributed significantly to the Jenison band program. The recipients of this years Jenison Band Directors’ Award are Dylan Newberry and Madelyn Schab.
The Ted Bazany Senior Music Scholarship was established in 1998 by Mr. Ted Bazany, Jenison band Director Emeritus. Each year this scholarship award is given to a senior pursuing a degree in music. The recipient of this year‘s Ted Bazany senior music scholarship is Madelyn Schab.
If this wasn’t enough to keep them all busy for the spring season, planning and preparation is already underway for the upcoming Marching Band season. Mark your calendars and save the date for our first marching band performance of the 2021 production, “Spirits of the Canyon” on Friday, August 6 at 7:00pm in Mackenzie Stadium. It is always an immense treat to see these shows come to life.
Nick Majestic received the National School Orchestra Association’s Director’s Award. The award recognizes musical excellence in the JHS orchestra program. Nick displayed this as concertmaster of the Jenison Orchestras, numerous 1st division awards at District and State Solo and Ensemble Festivals and his spring recital.
Gabriella Bennetts was named Outstanding Orchestra Student for her consistent work ethic and musical skill demonstrated throughout her time in the orchestra program. Gabbie performed this year with the Grand Rapids Youth Symphony in addition to earning 1st divisions at State and District Solo and Ensemble Festivals.
Among the many amazing pieces performed by all the orchestra groups these last few weeks, the Phantom of the Opera selections by the JHS Chamber Orchestra was a personal highlight. A piece I have long loved, and they sounded absolutely like a professional ensemble!
These concert programs are one of the things I’ve missed the most through this pandemic. It felt so great to be back in our amazing facility. Our directors and their students are back and they sounded better than ever! I can’t say enough how grateful I am for all the efforts from our music leadership team, the perseverance of the students and the support of their families as we waded through challenging protocols.
A thrilling personal accomplishment occurred on another stage entirely for JJHS 8th grader, Yewon Choi. Yewon plays with our High School Sinfonia orchestra at JHS. Yewon recently competed against other students and won 1st place as the classical orchestra winner of the Skip Gates Concert Competition for the Grand Rapids Youth Symphony Classical Orchestra. She gave a beautiful performance of the Bach A Minor Violin Concerto at DeVos Hall, accompanied by the Grand Rapids Youth Symphony.
I have also enjoyed seeing the orchestra directors being creative with their 4th grade recruiting concerts as the year winds down. I believe that music is an integral part of the quality, well-rounded education we offer at Jenison Public Schools. I can’t wait to hear the next class of musicians take the stage!