Arts programs in school districts are getting all too familiar with the budget process and are unfortunately almost always put into a defensive stance when it comes to the process. However, Wednesday's Dunkirk Jazz Invitational at the Clarion showcased beautifully why the slightest trim could be viewed as a very disappointing decision.
The sixth annual invitational sponsored by the Northern Chautauqua County Band Directors Association put the spotlight on students from nine area school districts.
"It's all about promoting the kids," Northern Chautauqua Band Directors Association founder/CEO and band director at Silver Creek High School Michael Wieloszynski said. "If you want children to be successful in school, you keep the music programs. It's the creativity that fosters their growth."
Performance by area schools
Thanks to a donation by the Advanced Production Group, the sound and soundstage students used was similar to that used by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. The atmosphere in the Clarion created an intimate setting that really helped to percolate the smooth jazz sounds.
"They'll be using the same setup that Lady Gaga uses, so this is a heck of an opportunity for the kids," Wieloszynski said before the show.
The event which began at 6 p.m. highlighted jazz ensembles from the following districts Dunkirk Middle School, Forestville Middle School, Silver Creek Middle School, the Black Knight Orchestra from Silver Creek, the North Collins Jazz Experience, the Forestville High School, Cassadaga Valley, Fredonia High School, as well as the Northern Chautauqua County Band Directors Association All Stars.
OBSERVER Photo by Michael Rukavina
Director David Golando conducts the Dunkirk Middle School Jazz Ensemble during the 6th annual Dunkirk Jazz Invitational at the Clarion.
"We started this six years ago at the Dunkirk High School and we started with five groups, and the following year we had six groups, and then seven and eight and its grown to now nine groups performing," Northern Chautauqua Band Directors Association President and Dunkirk Jazz Invitational Coordinator Robert De Santis said. "Unfortunately its one of the rare events in the area. The problem is nowadays is music budgets are getting cut all over the place. We saw that problem coming down the pipe about six years ago when we were doing this. We decided we needed to do something to promote music education."
De Santis made a brief reminder in between performances early on to members of the audience to talk about the music programs in their school districts with their board members.
"It's important for people to know that music education programs are dying and events like this they need to support, support, support music programs," he said. "If any board of education out there is looking to cut music programs in your district we encourage you to go, speak to a board member, speak to the superintendent, to the administration and don't let them cut your music program because then kids will be deprived of a wonderful event like this."
Usually the last thing on the minds of middle and high school students is wondering how much state aid their school district receives, or what the tax levy is they instead let their instruments do the talking for them.
"I was very happy with the job they did," Forestville Middle School Ensemble Director Jeff Geblein said. "It's a great experience for them. These kids have done a good job all year and it was great for them to have an opportunity to perform in this setting."
The Forestville Middle School ensemble was taking part in the invitational for the first time this year. In between performances the David Golando Quartet continued to fill the air with the wonderful sound of jazz.
"It's all about camaraderie and getting the kids to know that other school districts are doing this too and that this is America's music and Jazz is the music that quickly quickly dies away," De Santis said. "So we need to keep instilling into kids jazz jazz, America's music, you need to keep it. Hopefully events like this will help the longevity of their appreciation of the art form."
Over 175 students participated in this years event. Everyone received a participation award, and there were also outstanding soloist awards given. DVDs of the performance are available through the Northern Chautauqua Band Directors Association. Visit www.nccbda.org for more information.
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