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Our music students learn from the best in the business

Posted May 15, 2019.

Our music students learn from the best in the business

Earlier this month, our student members of the Barry Currie Stage Band and the Senior Jazz Ensemble travelled to Mt Gambier, South Australia, to attend and perform in Generations in Jazz.

The scale of this event is astounding. Held in the largest modular tent in the world, the festival is attended by over 5200 students from 150 schools across Australia and New Zealand. The event includes live concerts, workshops and a nationwide school bands competition. The schools featured are indeed some of the best in the country – a list of which we are proud to be a part!

Each night we attended amazing live concerts featuring many international superstars of jazz. Some of the top featuring artists included world-renowned trumpet virtuoso James Morrison, Grammy award-winning singer Kurt Elling, acclaimed American vocalist Lizz Wright, four-time Grammy award-winning organ player Joey DeFrancesco, world famous American tenor saxophone player Rickey Woodard (who played with Ray Charles for seven years), the internationally acclaimed Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz Ensemble and many more. It was a phenomenal line up and, if you know jazz, you’ll understand just how big these names are on the world stage.

We were also fortunate enough to attend an improvisation workshop led by James Morrison, Rickey Woodard and acclaimed American pianist and drummer Julius Rodriguez. This opportunity to hear world-renowned jazz greats speak to an intimate group, answer questions and demonstrate performance techniques was truly a once in a lifetime experience. As a teacher of Music, I was in awe and madly taking notes. You know an experience is powerful for students when the teacher is the one taking notes!

Our performance on Saturday was truly outstanding and, while we didn’t win, we were one of only two Ballarat schools with jazz bands at a skill level high enough to even play the test piece. It was a delight to see Old Collegians Harry Quail (2018, PAC Student Leader), Luke Axiak (2018, Stage Band Student Leader), Eva Cotsell (2018, PAC Student Leader) and Jack Walker (2014, PAC Student Leader) come along to support the students in their performance. Harry, who is currently studying Music at the James Morrison Academy, also attended and co-directed a rehearsal with me on the Friday night and gave the students a buzz when he described them as “the best stage band I’ve ever heard”.

A very special mention must go to Year 11 Stage Band and Senior Jazz Ensemble member Hamish McDougall, who was bestowed with the highly coveted ‘Super Band’ award. This accolade is awarded to the best student on each instrument in each division, and was granted to Hamish in recognition of his vibraphone/percussion work. Our students were thrilled when Hamish’s name was announced and he appeared on stage to accept the award in front of 8000 people.

On behalf of the students, I would like to thank those who assisted in the weekend going off without a hitch: Mrs Kerry Trounson, who not only attended the event but also offered her time, experience and expertise to the students; our bus driver, Phil, who did a fantastic job driving us around all weekend; and our wonderful PAC Administrator, Nick McMahon, who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure that the tour ran seamlessly.

A very special mention must also go to our fabulous parents who attended and supported our talented musicians: the Hodges and Lachlan McDougall, who drove the 3.5 hours each way to support us for the day; and Kate Clarke, who stayed for the full tour and assisted us throughout the weekend. I would like to extend my sincere thanks to all parents who supported their students in taking part in the tour and the parents and friends from FoPA for their generous donation to help make the tour possible.

Finally, I would like to congratulate all our talented BCC Music students who took part in this inspiring event for the outstanding way they represented Ballarat Clarendon College. We look forward to this becoming an annual event on the PAC calendar!

Written by Co-Head of Music, Carol Roberts.