Noblesville High School Jazz 1 band again gets elite invitation

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The Noblesville High School Jazz 1 band celebrates being named to the participate in the Essentially Ellington Festival and Competition in New York City. (Photo courtesy of Noblesville High School)

The Noblesville High School Jazz 1 band earned elite status for the second consecutive year. And this time, the experience should be even more enjoyable.

NHS is one of only 15 bands from across the United States and Canada selected for the Essentially Ellington Festival and competition in New York City. The NHS band is one of only five to be selected back-to-back to what is known as the Super Bowl of Jazz. It was held virtually in 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but it is expected to be held in person May 5-7. Noblesville will perform May 6.

“It’s a dream come true to go to New York,” said Bethany Robinson, NHS jazz band director and assistant band director. “We are beyond excited, but I know that even that feeling will pale in comparison to what we feel when we step onto one of the greatest jazz stages for big bands in the world. We will be overcome with joy and emotion, but the students will take all of those feelings and play an incredible set of music in the House of Swing.

“The accomplishment of becoming finalists two years in a row feels impossible, and we could not be more grateful to spend days being mentored by the top jazz music educators and musicians in the world.”

Robinson said there are many benefits to participating in 2021.

“Even though it was virtual in 2021, being named a top 15 Finalist for the biggest jazz fest in the nation was an incredible feeling because of how hard the students worked and how many obstacles they had to overcome,” Robinson said. “We still had many connections to the event through zoom rehearsals, luncheons, master classes, sectional rehearsals and, as a director, I was able to connect with some of the top directors in the nation and learn more about their best practices in teaching and make some great friends.”

Robinson said the band is thrilled to represent Noblesville Schools on a national stage.

“Only two other schools from Indiana have ever been named finalists for this prestigious 27-year running competition, and we are the only school in Indiana to have been named two times,” Robinson said.

The entire 21-member Jazz 1 band will make the trip.

“One of the challenges of making a competition this big when we haven’t actually made the trip before is a massive fundraising effort never before attempted by our band program,” Robinson said. “We aim to raise $35,000 to get this incredible student band to Jazz at Lincoln Center in the next few weeks.”

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