The Onions (Jazz Choir I) Take Their Music on the Road
Written By Mark Hoover, Seattle Academy Vocal Teacher
On April 26, Seattle Academy Upper School Jazz Choir I (Onions) embarked on an action-packed performing trip. It's well known that when musicians take their music on the road, amazing things can happen. The singular focus, varied performance venues, and audiences combine to make for an incomparably creative learning environment. All of these elements kicked into high gear for the Onions on this year's trip.
We began with a day of intensive preparation for our performance at the 57th Annual Reno Jazz Festival. The kids poured everything into their work, and we were all super happy with this high-pressure performance. We earned second place. First place going, this year, to the arts magnate charter school Natomas High School (Sacramento, CA). They were the last school to win the first place back in 2013 before Seattle Academy's five year run of first place awards. We enjoyed celebrating their amazing work.
We then traveled to the Los Angeles area for a series of three performances and varied impromptu singing opportunities. We did a full concert on Catalina Island. We were nearly rained out, but the rain stopped around 11:00 AM, allowing us to quickly set up our gear. The city of Avalon provided canopies to protect the sound equipment. We ran through our set with a sound check, and the rain started up within minutes of our final song. Due to the late start, the cruise ship in the bay had departed with most tourists, but many residents of Avalon who know about our annual concert came by to see the Onions perform.
The following day we visited the Orange County School of The Arts, a conservatory-style arts school. They have an active classical music training program and a jazz band. They have just begun a jazz choir program, so those kids and the director were thrilled to, as they said, "see how it is really done." The Onions did a short, wonderfully received program for their students and faculty.
On our final day, we traveled to St. Anastasia School, a K-8 catholic school where Seattle Academy and Onions alum Marcus Petitt '09 is the school's Music Program Director. There we sang our a cappella repertoire in their beautiful chapel for the 2nd through 8th grade students. These kids are always one of our favorite audiences. Marcus has nurtured their curiosity and appreciation of music to such a degree the 2nd graders sit in rapt attention for a full 45 minute a cappella concert. We finished the day by going over to the 1st grade class of 33 kids and sang for them in their class. Their huge eyes, dropped jaws, and wide smiles left us all with a clear lesson of the real function of music; person-to-person sharing of the mysterious power of music.
On our return, I told a parent at the airport that, "This was the best trip I'd ever been on." He said, "You say that every year." I replied, "I believe that every year."