Senior Combo Captures Division II State Crown!

FRYEBURG — Drummer Jon Dana is hardly surprised by the success Fryeburg Academy musicians enjoy on the highly competitive high school circuit.

“Fryeburg Academy has an outstanding music program. That is why it is so successful. The kids work hard; the teachers work harder; and in the end, a polished jazz machine emerges,” the FA senior said. “The hours of work are long, but they are fun and definitely pay off in the end.”

The “payoff” this past weekend was another state crown.

The Birth of the Cool Jazz Combo comprised of FA seniors, Devin LaCasce (alto sax, flute), Kelsey Sheehan (bass), Naomi Ela (piano) and Jon Dana (drums) won the Division II State Jazz Combo Title on Friday, March 18 at Mount Desert Island. This win continues a streak of six consecutive state titles for FA’s top combo.

The State Instrumental Jazz Festival featured over 80 schools from across the state, which descended on the MDI area for the weekend’s festival.

Devin and Jon also won two of the five individual Outstanding Musicianship Awards given out at the evening’s award ceremony.

“Music has always been an interest of mine. I love the way it can instantly change your emotions or even tell you a story through various melodies and harmonies,” Jon said. “Music, more than anything, can be amazingly fun to create and even more exciting to perform. That is why I continue to play drums and sing at Fryeburg Academy.”

Devin was very pleased with her’s and the entire group’s performance.

“Performing at States was amazing! We have so many fans that come and watch us play, and it’s great to know that people who watched our group play our freshman year have been watching us straight through to our senior year,” she said. “It’s nice that, after months of practicing, listeners can appreciate how hard we have worked. I honestly think that we played as well as we possibly could have played. We put so much work in during rehearsals so that we can have no regrets after a performance.”

Fryeburg’s Seven Steps Combo, featuring Audrey Boyd (trombone), Isabel Hodgman-Burns (tenor sax), Nicole Tichenor (trumpet), Chelsea Abraham (flute), Ron Rideout (drums), MiHo Noh (piano) and Isabelle Boyd (bass) was awarded second place in the Multiple Combo Division. Ron was selected recipient of the Outstanding Musicianship Award in this division.

Sophomore Michelle Boucher also won an Outstanding Award for her performance with the Una Mas Combo.

The second day of the festival featured the Big Band Competition. After an amazing daytime performance, Fryeburg’s Big Band was one of two schools in their division to advance to the night finals. The evening’s performance was even more powerful, capturing Fryeburg a second-place finish, 6/10s of a point behind the Nokomis Big Band.

Congratulations to all the Big Band members: Naomi Ela (piano), Kelsey Sheehan (bass), Jon Dana (drums), Isabel Hodgman-Burns (tenor sax), Devin LaCasce (alto sax, voice), Haley Nadeau (alto sax), Ashley Wissman (tenor sax), Meghan Bradley (bari sax), Audrey Boyd (trombone), Kiley Jolicouer (trombone), Casey Rosenburg (trombone), Austin Ward (trumpet), Chris Schubert (trumpet) Nicole Tichenor (trumpet) and Michelle Boucher (trumpet).

Devin LaCasce received another Outstanding Musicianship Award for her Big Band Performance.

Fryeburg Academy closes out its competitive jazz season at the State Vocal Jazz Festival in Ellsworth on Saturday, April 2.

Area residents can experience FA Jazz at its finest by attending Jazz Night at Stone Mountain Arts Center on Wednesday, May 18. For tickets and other information, go to

Please follow and like us: