The pride of Sturgeon County is planning to embark on the trip of a lifetime.
Student musicians from Sturgeon Composite High School are leaving for an eight-day trip to New Orleans on March 20.
“We’ll be playing in the French Quarter and performing at an elementary school,” says music director Darwin Krips.
The band also plans to visit Tulane University where the city’s only collegiate level marching band resides.
“It has 400 members. It’s massive,” laughs Krips.
The students are also stopping at Preservation Hall, the home of jazz in North America.
“It’s a small place and we’ve booked it for an evening. The musicians will play for us and give us a history lesson. It’s unbelievable to be in such a sacred place.”
While participants are stoked about the upcoming trip, they’re honing their chops and getting ready for a concert at the Arden Theatre on Wednesday, March 6.
The concert features the music program’s four ensembles – the Concert Band, the Concert Choir, the Jazz Band and the Vocal Jazz Choir.
Every year the ensembles have immersed themselves in the music festival season bringing home a new batch of bragging rights. They’ve become the groups to beat. The Arden concert is a sampling of material they will perform during the competitions.
The 20-piece Jazz Band, in keeping with a New Orleans theme, presents Louisiana Hot Sauce.
“It’s a pretty traditional second line street beat,” Krips said. “It’s fairly upbeat with lots of room to improvise on the blues.”
The 55-piece Concert Band instead takes on the challenges of the classical repertoire in Scenes From Old Russia, an arrangement of Tchaikovsky’s and Petrovich Mussorgsky’s tunes.
“It’s a nice opportunity to play piano transcriptions. They’re great concert band charts.”
The 70-singer Concert Choir teleports back in time to sing Il Est Bel et Bon, one of Pierre Passereau’s 15th century French madrigals.
“It’s a fun madrigal and it goes quickly. It’s about two husbands talking about their wives and when they talk, they talk like chickens.”
Last but not least, the 16-member Vocal Jazz Choir pops into a swing tune with Nat King Cole’s Straighten Up and Fly Right and Annie Lennox’s pop jazz piece Here Comes the Rain.
“I’m proud of these kids,” Krips said. “It’s a very challenging program and they’ve done good work. I’m really excited to get into the festival season. They’ve taken ownership of our music and the possibilities of getting out in public to play the music.”
Sturgeon Composite High School Music Program Festival Concert
Wednesday, March 6 at 7 p.m.
Tickets: $5 at door