Members of a Semiahmoo Grade 9 jazz band rehearse for the band program’s upcoming online Christmas and Winter concert. (Wayne Ablitt photo)

Semiahmoo Secondary jazz bands swing out online

Chistmas concert available for streaming

Semiahmoo Secondary’s jazz band program may have been somewhat muted by the pandemic – but it’s alive and well and ready to swing out on home screens, according to program director Dagan Lowe.

Proof of that, he said, will be the program’s Christmas and Winter 2020 concert, streamed online Dec. 17 at 7:30 p.m. at semiahmoomusic.ca

The broadcast will be set up so that home viewers can donate through PayPal, he said.

Proceeds will be split, with 50 per cent earmarked for the program and to pay production costs. The remaining 50 per cent will go to the Sources White Rock/South Surrey Food Bank and Covenant House, Lowe said.

“We’re trying to do as much as we can to get our music out in the community,” he said, noting the concert has been made possible by South Surrey-based content creators/producers/distributors Hubcast Media.

“We’re still trying to reach out and play for people.”

READ MORE: Semiahmoo Secondary jazz bands score festival glory

Hubcast, he said, is “a company owned by one of our Grade 12 parents, so we’d like to give a shout out to them, and also the Semiahmoo Music Society, which is our parents group, for helping organize this.”

Featured will be five of the school’s jazz bands, including two Grade 9 groups under the direction of Wayne Ablitt, one Grade 10 group and a larger-than-usual group of Grade 12 students that Lowe has divided into two jazz bands.

The only reason Grade 11 is not represented is that under the quarterly system of dividing the school year at Semiahmoo, the concert is only featuring musicians actively playing in this quarter, Lowe said.

The enthusiasm of the young musicians who have been preparing for this concert is impressive, he added.

“They’ve only been playing together for a matter of weeks; only just got the horns back into their faces.”

Nonetheless, each ensemble is playing two pieces, which Lowe described as “mostly holiday or Christmas songs in a jazz style.”

“The Grade 12’s are doing some Gordon Goodwin big band charts, including a ‘lift’ of Glenn Miller’s swing version of Jingle Bells, which is more or less on the pro level,” Lowe said.

“It’s pretty amazing they’ve taken on playing this level of music.”

The concert will also feature a set by professional musicians who have been serving as inspiration – and online workshop mentors – for the program, including famed Semiahmoo alumna Jodi Proznick on bass, her husband Tilden Webb on keys, Jesse Cahill on drums and singer Dawn Pemberton (“she’s a wonderful vocalist I went to college with,” Lowe noted).

“One of our goals this year is that, if we can’t get students to outside events, we’ll bring the professional musicians to them, to say this is what we’re trying to emulate,” Lowe said.

“This year, there’s been very little in the way of gigs for professional musicians, so we’re trying to bring them into the limelight, too.”

Lowe said that while teaching a band program under pandemic conditions has presented its share of challenges, Semiahmoo has been able to follow B.C. Music Educators Association guidelines to ensure that it is being done safely. The music rooms are well-ventilated, with doors open to both the hallway and the school’s inner courtyard, and fans to create a steady stream of air to clear the rooms.

Most wind players wear masks with closable flaps which allow them to blow through mouthpieces, while instrument ‘bells’ are also covered.

Generally musicians within each band can be successfully distanced, or play in sections of their own ‘cohort,’ he added.

“Overall the kids have been very responsive,” he said.

To access the concert, and for full information, visit semiahmoomusic.ca

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