South Whidbey High School jazz band needs community’s help

Put another notch in the jazz belt of South Whidbey High School.

Ian Marsanyi jams on the drums during a concert at Mukilteo Coffee Roasters. Marsanyi won an Outstanding Soloist award at the Lionel Hampton International Jazz Festival in February.

Ian Marsanyi jams on the drums during a concert at Mukilteo Coffee Roasters. Marsanyi won an Outstanding Soloist award at the Lionel Hampton International Jazz Festival in February.

Put another notch in the jazz belt of South Whidbey High School.

The school’s jazz ensemble continues to dazzle audiences and garner prestigious awards, as it did just recently by being selected as one of 12 bands in the country to participate in the Next Generation Jazz Festival in Monterey, Calif.

The top three high school bands from that festival will be invited to perform at the famous Monterey Jazz Festival Sept. 18 to 20.

In order to make it to that first festival, the South Whidbey High School Jazz Ensemble, under the direction of Chris Harshman, will perform at Whidbey Island Center for the Arts at 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 20.

All proceeds from this benefit concert will go toward the travel fund for the Jazz Ensemble’s trip to Monterey in early April.

It’s no surprise that this band was selected.

The band reaffirmed their prowess as consummate musicians two weeks ago when they loaded up the bus and traveled to the 42nd Annual Lionel Hampton International Jazz Festival in Moscow, Idaho.

It was a memorable festival as the band, for the fifth year in a row, placed first in the Single A Division.

Later the winners performed in front of thousands of people at the University of Idaho’s Kibbie Dome. But the fun didn’t stop there.

Senior Ian Marsanyi received the Outstanding Drum Soloist Award and performed with the other 11 outstanding instrumentalists at the “Hamp Club” before and after a culminating evening performance by the Lionel Hampton New York Big Band.

Eric Vanderbilt-Mathews also received a special commendation from the alto saxophone adjudicator.

The competition is fierce for the awards and when the four-day event was done, more than 10,000 students had competed.

The South Whidbey High School Jazz Ensemble has shown the world what musicians can do if they dedicate themselves to the form.

But now they need help to go further.

Tickets are $15 for adults and $12 for students and seniors.

For those who cannot attend the concert, the South Whidbey Schools Foundation has set up a special account for the travel fund.

Anyone can help by making a tax- deductible donation with a check payable to the “South Whidbey Schools Foundation.” Mail it to: SWSF, PO Box 24, Freeland, WA 98249. Checks should be earmarked for the SWHS Jazz Ensemble.

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