Combos take top honors, bands deliver outstanding performances
The MSA Jazz Choir 1 took first place among high school jazz choirs in the Folsom Jazz Festival vocal competition January 23 when the 14-member group performed to a standing ovation at the annual high school choir competition and went on to win the Jazz Choir Sweepstakes.
Competing against some of the best high school vocal groups in Northern California, MSA’s top jazz choir earned first place in the top division before moving on to the evening’s command performance round at the competition, outscoring Archbishop Mitty High School and Summerville High School.
“I am extremely proud of the music the Jazz Choir is making and Saturday reflected that. They are performing with heart, integrity and musicianship,” MSA’s Vocal Director Stevie Greenwell said. “All awards aside, it was a day of connection and expression and that is why we do what we do: It’s all about a community of music and our community rocks,” Greenwell added.
The choir debuted a stunning piece of vocal music at the competition called “Musical Genocide,” based on the Gregory Porter song of the same name and commissioned by Natalie John specifically for the MSA Jazz Choir.
This was also the first year that MSA entered two Jazz Choirs in the competition; Jazz Choir 2 delivered an outstanding performance, placing fifth in a difficult division.
In the Jazz Combo competitions, MSA’s Jazz Combo 1 took second place in the top high school division, placing behind top ranked Rio Americano High School. MSA Jazz Combo 2 took first place in the second highest combo division.
Competing for the first time under the direction of Dr. Greg Johnson, MSA Jazz Big Bands performed extremely well, presenting music that has never been heard in high school competitions. Jazz Band 1 took third place in the top-level division behind top-rated bands from Rio Americano and Northgate high schools. MSA Jazz Bands 3 and 4 took third place in their respective divisions and Jazz Band 2 placed fifth in their division.
“I am never surprised by how well our music students do at these events,” said MSA Director Peter Ornstein. “If you walk into Greg’s or Stevie’s classes, you quickly see why our students always do so well. They are wonderfully instructed by these two great teachers. I am so thankful we have both of them here at MSA.”
Folsom’s festival is one of the largest Northern California high school jazz competitions and marks the beginning of a busy spring festival season ahead. Next up, MSA Jazz bands compete at the El Cerrito Jazz Festival (February 6), followed by the Santa Cruz Jazz Festival (March 19) and Reno Jazz Festival (April 28-30).