The 55th annual production of Pops 'n Jazz, featuring Hall High School's acclaimed jazz bands, dancers, and singers, opens March 15, with additional performances March 16, 21, 22 and 23. Doors open at 7:00 p.m. and performances begin at 7:30 p.m.
Home of one of the nation’s top high school jazz programs, Hall High has produced the musical extravaganza known as Pops 'n Jazz since 1958, when the show was originated by former band director Bill Stanley. Hall was one of the first high schools in the United States to integrate jazz into its daily curriculum, and Hall students have performed around the world.
Pops ’n Jazz 2013 features more than 100 student performers, the school's Concert Jazz Band, Jazz Band, Jazz Dancers, and Choraliers (jazz singers). The program, which varies slightly each night, provides an array of American jazz classics from all eras, performed in big band and combo settings, highly choreographed jazz productions, and featured solo performances. The show offers an eclectic blend of music, ranging from traditional and progressive jazz to pop-rock and Broadway.
In addition to the student performances, invited guests from the ranks of professional musicians appear on selected evenings. This year, featured guests include Joel Frahm on March 16, Scott Wendholt on March 21 and Gregg Kallor on March 22. Participation of guest performers is supported by the Ellen Jeanne Goldfarb Memorial Charitable Trust.
Showcasing up-and-coming young talent from King Philip Middle School, there will be special performances by the KP Singers (March 15 and 23), Sixth Dimension (March 22) and the King Philip Jazz Band (March 21). On March 16, special recognition will be given to the Pops ’n Jazz Elementary All-Stars, which include students from Aiken, Whiting Lane, Bugbee, Norfeldt, Morley, and Smith elementary schools in West Hartford.
Pops ’n Jazz is produced by retired Supervisor of Fine and Performing Arts, Haig Shahverdian, and Jazz bands are directed by John Mastroianni, Hall High’s Director of Bands. The Jazz Singers are under the direction of Vocal Director Lorri Cetto, the Jazz Dancers are under the direction of choreographer, Stephanie Simpson, and the stage crew and set construction are coordinated by Technical Director Brian Jacobs. Lighting design and staging are under the direction of Eileen Shahverdian. Costumes are coordinated by Kathy Kuckens and Judi Houpert. Technical theatre and stagecraft students are responsible for set construction, as well as stage management, lighting and audio. Additional assistance is provided by Hall High parents, teachers and staff.
The West Hartford Public Schools have received the Kennedy Center Award for Excellence in Arts Education in recognition of their program. The Hall Concert Jazz Band has performed at the White House, has repeatedly been invited to the Essentially Ellington Competition at Lincoln Center, and has repeatedly won first place at the Berklee School of Music Jazz Festival in Boston. The Concert Jazz Band won the Downbeat award for “Best Big Band” for 2004-05. Hall’s Jazz Singers placed first at the 2003 Berklee Jazz Festival.
Hall Concert Jazz Band alumni include renowned jazz musicians Richie Barshay (drums), Joel Frahm (tenor sax), Brad Mehldau (piano), Erica von Kleist (alto sax), Peter McGuinness (trombone), Noah Preminger (tenor sax), Patrick Zimmerli (tenor sax), and Gregg Kallor (piano).
Through the years, the Concert Jazz Band has performed with some of the finest jazz artists in the world, including Phil Woods, Wynton Marsalis, Joe Lovano, Randy Brecker, Jimmy Heath, Bob Mintzer, Marvin Stamm, Dionne Warwick, Kurt Elling, Curtis Fuller, and the Count Basie and Woody Herman Orchestras.
Tickets for the show are $15, and are available at the Hall High box office, which is open Monday-Friday, 11 a.m. – 2:30 p.m., Saturdays 11 a.m. – 1 p.m., and Tuesday and Thursday evenings, 7- 8:30 p.m. For more information, call the Pops 'n Jazz hotline at 860-232-4561, Ext. 1856, or visit www.hallhighjazz.com.
Release submitted by Hall Pops 'n Jazz.