John Rennie Jazz Band takes gold at national competition

John Rennie Jazz Band takes gold at national competition
First time in 40 years
T
By Robert Frank
www.thesuburban.com

No one was more astonished at their achievement than the 22 John Rennie High School music students who earned gold recognition at Musicfest Canada in Ottawa, May 16, competing against bands from across the country.

“We were the underdogs: we didn’t even expect to go to the nationals,” enthused JRHS music director Craig Hodgson, who added that this is the school’s first national gold award in 40 years of competition.

“The judges were amazed at the age of our group, half of whom were in Grades 7-8,” he continued. The remainder were Grade 9-10 students who would normally compete at that level.

“That, combined with the positive energy every one of these kids exuded made a huge impact,” Hodgson recalled.

“We went into a jazz workshop immediately after we performed three classic jazz pieces, and they came running in with the gold award. They were that excited,” he told The Suburban the following day.

He noted that competition organizers also singled out JRHS electric bass guitarist Neale Willis for an individual honour as “a student who is both an excellent player as well as a supportive member of the band, helping other students.”

JRHS’ music program has thrived since Hodgson began teaching music there six years ago. He said that he gave up a position teaching in Lindsay Place High School’s prestigious music program “because I wanted to build a concert band and jazz band program at John Rennie.”

He said that the school had few instruments when he arrived and that he has since succeeded in purchasing more through “fundraising and the support of the school administration.”

The John Rennie High School Jazz Band poses at the Oscar Peterson memorial outside the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, May 16, where the underage underdogs unexpectedly earned the school’s first triumph in 40 years of competition.
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