Each spring for 60 years the Highland High School has held their annual Scholarship Concert, with the proceeds going to a graduating senior who will be pursuing music at the college level.
This year musicians from the fifth grade right on through to the 12th grade performed a wide variety of instrumental band music from jazz, rock, swing and symphonic selections for large and small configurations.
The concert was held in the High School gymnasium, with all of the musicians gathered under one roof.
After the Star Spangled Banner opening, the Middle School Jazz ensemble, under the direction of Dan Shaut performed, ‘Work Song,’ by jazz trumpeter/composer Nat Adderley, followed by ‘Fiesta Rock’ by Mike Collins performed by the Fifth Grade Band, under the baton of Karen Adamec. The Seventh and Eight grade combined band played. ‘Live On’ by Larry Clark with Vincent Rizzi at the helm.
Shaut’s High School Jazz Ensemble tackled Duke Ellington’s F minor blues classic, “Echoes of Harlem, following up with the big band standard, ‘The Chicken,’ by Alfred James Ellis.
The Sixth Grade Band bit into the rhythmically driving, ‘Aztec Gold,’ by Pennsylvania native, Joseph Compello and went on to play, ‘Flight Of The Condor,’ by Mark Williams. The Fifth grade band played, ‘Livin’ On A Prayer,’ by the rock band Bon Jovi.
The High School Concert Band performed, ‘Aquarium MVT 1,’ by the Dutch conductor/ composer Johan de Meij and plunged into the difficult symphonic film suite, ‘Pirates of the Caribbean,’ by German composer Klaus Badler.
The combined seventh/eighth grade band played a rousing arrangement of the pop song, “Shut Up And Dance,” by Nicholas Petricca, of the American rock band Walk the Moon.
The evening came to a close with all of the musicians playing Frank Sinatra’s signature song, ‘New York, New York,’ by film and stage composers Fred Ebb and John Kander.
After the concert Superintendent Thomas Bongiovi was ecstatic.
“I thought things were fabulous. What a night for our students, for our music program just to see all the grades out there,” he said. “It was a great variety of music and how they coordinated it all was just so smooth,” he said.
Dan Shaut said his musicians have been preparing for this concert for about two months.
“I think it was a good concert and a good representation of the district’s instrumental program and the kids had fun,” he said. “I think it’s good to keep learning music.”
Shaut tries to challenge the audience.
“I always try to throw something in that’s new to most people and I try to give them a little bit of something familiar as well,” he said.
Karen Adamec said the concert went well.
“I thought every band was very successful, we all worked very hard,” she said,.
Adamec said it was the very first time that all of the musicians combined actually played together.
“We just held out breath and went for it,” she said. “I know my students loved everything I chose for this concert.”
Vincent Rizzi couldn’t contain his excitement.
“I thought it was great, everyone did a phenomenal job. I was super happy with my groups and having all of the students was awesome,” he said.
Rizzi said he has a bit of fun when choosing selections, such as the pop song, ‘Shut Up And Dance.”
“I listened to pieces over the summer and picked things that I liked and compiled things that in some way go together and are fun in the end,” he said.
Rizzi expects his students to like the pop material the most, “but they liked ‘Encanto’ that was their favorite piece, they loved it, saying it was so awesome.”
Rizzi’s method is to find unusual pieces for his students to learn.
“That’s my philosophy, because I want to find stuff they’ve never heard before; it’s important,” he said.