On Tuesday, April 5, 2022, the Virgin Valley High School Jazz band attended the Clark County Jazz Festival at Green Valley High School. The band was directed by Brittany Wagner (band teacher at VVHS) and Conrad Allen (band teacher at CHMS). Their performance consisted of three pieces: “Big Swing Face,” “Pennsylvania 6-5000”, and “Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars.”

“Big Swing Face,” arranged by Rich Sigler, is a fun swing piece with solos played by tenor saxophones Maya Solis-Stokes, Tyra Ludvigson, and trumpet Ben Nelson. “Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars,” arranged by Paul Murtha, is a smooth Bossa Nova piece with an alto saxophone solo played by Elsa Whipple. “Pennsylvania 6-5000,” arranged by John Berry, is a well-known swing piece with vocals from the band and solos from trumpet player Ben Nelson and alto saxophone Lieste Macias.

“The songs are different styles that show off how good the band sounds and their ability to play the different jazz parts,” says Conrad Allen when asked why he chose the pieces. 

The Virgin Valley High School Jazz Band performed for judges and scored a 2+ with 1+ being the highest score possible during last week at the Clark County Jazz Festival. (Photo: Brittany Wagner)

The jazz band, consisting of about 30 students, practices every day after school to prepare for their performance. The students show up at the festival in an all-black concert attire, where they are taken to a room for case drop-off. The band is then transferred to a warm-up room to warm up on their instruments and practice their pieces. After a couple of minutes of preparing themselves, the band takes the stage and plays their show in front of judges for a score.

“Overall, I think we did well, especially since two of our pieces were given to us recently. We put in the effort, and it paid off!” says sophomore and alto saxophone player Caiden Jones.

After the nerve-wracking performance, the band attends a clinic with a professional musician. Clinics are the perfect opportunity for the band to get some feedback on what they can improve on. This year, the VVHS Jazz Band had the fantastic opportunity to be led by Dr. Richard McGee in their clinic. He went over the pieces in order and worked with the saxophones and trombones. He advised the band to exaggerate their pieces so the sound is not quiet and spread out. McGee complimented the rhythm section for working well together. He also told the band to have fun and sell the words in “Pennsylvania 6-5000!” Dr.Richard McGee reached the end of his wise words by telling the band that the ensemble balance was excellent in “Pennsylvania 6-5000.”  

At the end of their festival, the band got to listen to another jazz group before heading home. The VVHS Jazz Band was excited to hear they scored a 2+ overall with 1+ being the highest score a band can get at a festival. The band’s continuous work was definitely worth it! The Virgin Valley High School Jazz Band will be performing for the last time at the VVHS spring concert along with the advanced band, indoor percussion group, color guard, and senior showcase. This will be held at the Virgin Valley High School auditorium on Monday, May 2, 2022, at 6 p.m. Everyone is welcome as it will be a fun and entertaining night for all!

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