Massena, Canton high school jazz ensembles travel to Albany for performance
Wednesday, March 14, 2018 - 6:12 pm

MASSENA -- On March 8-9, 2018 the Massena and Canton High School Jazz Ensembles traveled to Albany for a “Music In Our Schools Month” performance.

They played at the State Capital Empire Plaza and then traveled to the Oneida Jazz festival to perform for an adjudication and compete against 25 other Central New York school jazz ensembles.

Jonathan Hunkins and Timothy Savage, jazz ensemble directors from Massena and Canton, respectively, had been preparing for this trip since late last school year. They established fundraisers and selected jazz/big band charts. Rehearsals began this fall when school resumed.

Each year, NYSSMA (New York State School Music Association) sponsors its “Music In Our School Month” performances from schools around the state. Massena and Canton Jazz ensembles headed to Albany, unloaded and setup in the Nelson A. Rockefeller Empire State Plaza's Concourse level and then performed for the general public and attending legislators during a 45-minute time slot. Members from each ensemble then received a plaque commemorating the performance. It was a musically rewarding and memorable experience for all involved. The bands were then able to head into the New York State Museum for a few historically enriching hours.

On March 9, both school ensembles then proceeded to the Annual Oneida Jazz Festival where they were adjudicated and competed against 25 other school jazz ensembles divided into different classes (D, C, B, A, AA, AAA). This festival concluded with a concert from the Central NY Jazz ensemble and an awards ceremony.

Massena competed in the AAA division alongside Liverpool, West Genesee and Henniger high schools. They received a “Gold” rating earning a total of 192 points out of a possible 200. Personal awards were also received for the following students: Best Trumpet in AAA, Simon LaGarry; Best Keyboard in AAA, Mekayla Fountaine; Best Drumset in AAA, Joseph Marcello; Best Guitar in AAA, Evan George; 4th Trombone in AAA, Jonathan French. They also received the prestigious award of “Best Rhythm Section” for the entire festival out of the 25 competing ensembles.

Canton competed in the AA division alongside Fonda Fulton Jazz I, East Syracuse, Minoa, New Hartford, and Liverpool Stage. Canton performances at the Oneida Jazz Festival on Friday yielded Gold awards for both the Jazz Combo and the Jazz Band. Students from Canton receiving awards in AA for outstanding individual performances included Ben Richey on drums, Stan Liabikhov on baritone sax, Lizzy Davis on trombone, Blake Bennett on guitar, Noah Goldie on trumpet, Danny Monroe on flute and alto sax and Gabe Schmid-Doyle on bass.