FA Jazz Groups land gold at state festival



FA Big Band members include (front row, left to right) Sharla-Mae Day, Rachel Jensen, McKenna McGrath, Ciara Neidlinger, Owen Burk and Christian Martin; (back row) Georgia Stafford, Brendan Simkins, Sam Paulding, Will Marshall, Lexi Parker, Marc Ianuzzi, Jaden Fierman, Finn Lane, Patrick Malia and Simon St. Pierre.

FRYEBURG — The Fryeburg Academy jazz ensembles wrapped up another successful season, April 6-7.

Under the direction of Mimi Rohlfing, the bands attended the Maine Music Educator’s State Vocal Jazz Festival at Stearns Junior/Senior High School in Millinocket to compete against other Division I groups.

Based on their afternoon performance, FA musicians received a gold rating and numerous individual awards. Four outstanding musician awards are presented in each division, and two Fryeburg Academy students received this recognition — Ciara Neidlinger ’18, and Georgia Stafford ’19.

Sylvia Sanchez Serra ’19, piano, Christian Martin ’18, guitar, Owen Burk ’18, bass, and Matthew Gunther ’20, drums, captured the outstanding rhythm section award.

Also receiving recognition with the highest rating as soloists were McKenna McGrath ’19, Ashely Nguyen ’18, Mckenzie Huppe ’18, Arvin Ma ’20, Simon St. Pierre ’21, Owen Burk ’18, Georgia Stafford ’19, Christian Martin ’18, Addison Schwarz ’18, and Ciara Neidlinger ’18.

The top two groups were invited to present their program in the evening finals to compete for the honor of first and second place. For the 13th year in a row, Fryeburg Academy came out on top.

On March 16-17, Fryeburg Academy’s Big Band and jazz combos, directed by Mike Sakash, participated in the Maine Music Educator’s State Instrumental Jazz Festival.

FA Vocal Jazz Ensemble members include (front row, left to right) Matthew Gunther, Sam Paulding, McKenna McGrath, McKenzie Huppe, Ciara Neidlinger, Addison Schwarz and Patrick Malia; (back row) Sylvia Sanchez Serra, Ashley Nguyen, Arvin Ma, Georgia Stafford, Owen Burk, Christian Martin, Simon St. Pierre, David Marshall and Brendan Simkins.

After two days of performance and critique, outstanding musician awards were presented to Georgia Stafford ’18, for her performances with the New Standard Combo and the Fryeburg Academy Big Band, and Ethan Reinbach ’20 for his performance with the Simon and Funky Bunch combo.

This year, Fryeburg’s Big Band and New Standard Combo earned gold medals for their performances, while the Simon and the Funky Bunch earned an Honorable Mention.

Ensemble directors Mimi Rohlfing and Mike Sakash are proud of the students’ hard work and progress. The directors are already preparing for an exciting season next year, beginning with guest artist Kim Nazarian of the Grammy-winning New York Voices as part of the fifth annual Jazz Residency Initiative.

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