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Saxophones and Character Shoes: It Must Be Time for Hall's Pops 'n Jazz

Students rehearse for annual display of musical and dance talent.

The Pops ’n Jazz tradition continues with the 54th annual production of the signature performance, featuring acclaimed jazz bands, dancers, and singers. The show opens March 16, with additional performances March 17, 22, 23, and 24. Doors open at 7 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 2012 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.

This year, "Kiss Me Kate" and "West Side Story" are the source of some favorite numbers, according to students participating in the show.

In addition to the student performances, invited guests from the ranks of professional musicians appear on selected evenings. This year, featured guests include Joyce DiCamillo (piano) on March 17 and Michael Phillip Mossman (trumpet) on March 22. Participation of guest performers is supported by the Ellen Jeanne Goldfarb Memorial Charitable Trust.

Showcasing up-and-coming young talent from , there will be special performances by the KP Singers (March 16 and 24), Sixth Dimension (March 23) and the King Philip Jazz Band (March 22).

On March 17, special recognition will be given to the Pops ’n Jazz Elementary All-Stars, which include students from , , , , , and elementary schools in West Hartford.

Pops ’n Jazz is produced by Haig Shahverdian, Supervisor/Consultant of Fine and Performing Arts for the West Hartford Schools, and John Mastroianni, Hall High’s Director of Bands and Jazz Bands. The Jazz Singers are under the direction of Vocal Director Lorri Cetto, the Jazz Dancers are under the direction of choreographers Amara Watkin-Anson and Kaia Pazdersky, and the stage crew and set construction are coordinated by Technical Director Brian Jacobs. 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 vonKleist (alto sax), Peter McGuinness (trombone), Noah Preminger (tenor sax), and Patrick Zimmerli (tenor sax).

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

This information was submitted in a news release.

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