ORHS Students Perform at State Jazz All-Star Festival

From left, William Blandini, Molly Schmidt, and Micah Bessette.

DURHAM – Principal Rebecca Noe and Music Teacher Marc LaForce proudly share that three Oyster River High School students performed at the NHMEA Jazz All-State Festival recently.

Micah Bessette, William Blandini, and Molly Schmidt participated in the annual Festival held Feb. 8-10.

Bessette and Schmidt participated in the Honors Jazz Choir. Schmidt performed a short, improvised scat solo. Blandini played the trumpet and flugelhorn in the Jazz Band and was a featured soloist on flugelhorn.

“I am extremely proud of Micah, William, and Molly who worked very hard at perfecting the challenging etude materials and interpreting their songs individually in their own jazz style,” LaForce said. “For one to be able to learn to play and sing in the jazz style, they must invest a significant amount of time and effort both listening and practicing in an effort to assimilate the traditions and standards established by the best practitioners of this singularly American art form.”

Each student was selected after participating in a competitive audition at Londonderry High School in October. Judges assess auditioners on musical standards and the styles specific to the jazz idiom.

Top scorers in instrumental and voice are invited to the All-State Festival, where they rehearse with college-level guest conductors for two days and present a public concert.

The concert includes two Jazz Bands, each of about 17 students, and two Jazz Choirs, each of about eight students.

“The Festival is an excellent learning experience for our young musicians, and this is a wonderful achievement," Principal Noe said. "Music plays a major role in the lives of these students, and their talents and success make our school community a special place." 

NHMEA is a member of the National Association for Music Education, among the world’s largest arts education organizations and the voice of music education in the United States. Its mission is to celebrate and preserve cultural heritage, support expression, imagination, and creation, and ensure access to music education for all students.

“Congratulations to all three students, and thank you to Marc LaForce, our Music Department, and their friends and family, all of whom encourage and support them to be the best they can be,” Superintendent James C. Morse, Sr., said.