Fermi High School hosts annual Jazz Festival

By Lisa Stone - ReminderNews
Enfield - posted Thu., Feb. 27, 2014
A portion of the Navy Band Northeast’s Showband takes a few moments to pose for a picture just after their performance. Pictured are MU3 Gene Register, MU1 Christopher Sams, MU1 David Ward, MU2 James Brownell and MU3 John Parris. Photos by Lisa Stone.
A portion of the Navy Band Northeast’s Showband takes a few moments to pose for a picture just after their performance. Pictured are MU3 Gene Register, MU1 Christopher Sams, MU1 David Ward, MU2 James Brownell and MU3 John Parris. Photos by Lisa Stone.

The Enrico Fermi High School Instrumental Music Department presented its 23rd annual Jazz Festival on Feb. 22, and welcomes 11 bands to its auditorium. The students musicians represented included Fermi, Enfield, Westfield, Rockville, Berlin and Torrington high schools, along with Ellington Middle School, Westfield State University and The Navy Band Northeast's Showband.

“We are very happy to be here today,” said Musician Second Class Margaret Smith of the United States Navy. “We have had a great time. We volunteer our services for several different events. This is just one of our units. We have a jazz band, a rock band and other types of bands as well.” According to Smith the bands have played at Times Square in New York City during Fleet Week when all the ships come into the harbor, several different jazz festivals, the Bourne Scallop Festival in Massachusetts and aboard the USS Intrepid. There are approximately 45 Navy personnel that take part in the bands. Some do double duty, as they play for different types of bands. “The Navy has had the pleasure of playing at Fermi’s Jazz Festival for a few years now. It’s always nice to come back,” added Smith.

In between each set, emcee Mark Jamison addressed the audience to offer a brief synopsis of what the crowd could expect. “All of the musicians are fantastic,” said Jamison. “This is an exciting, fun-filled activity that features many top young musicians of our era. I am extremely happy to be a part of this festival.”

“This was a great day,” said Fermi band director Mark Reppucci. “The music that was played by all of our groups, which included a middle school, high schools, a university and even the Navy Band, is a tribute to our American music. Since Fermi hosted the event, our band was not eligible to receive any awards. This would be a conflict of interest, since we hired the judges.” Reppucci joked, “My wife made the judges a lasagna. I guess that could have been a bribe if we could have gotten a medal.”

Kendra Gillette was the co-chair of the festival along with Debra Donovan. “It takes a lot of work to put something like this together,” said Gillette. “We send out invitational letters to all the local schools in November. They have until January to respond as to whether or not they can attend. The Navy is always so good to us. They don’t charge a fee for coming and they are fantastic.” According to Gillette, this year’s production was done with the help of 24 volunteers and 15 parents.

“I am part of the Fermi String Orchestra,” said Keiona Khen. “Though I am not part of the Jazz Band, I really enjoy listening to the music. That is why I volunteered to help out today with whatever tasks they need me to do. All of the bands are incredible. It’s so nice to see Ellington Middle School compete with all the high schools. They are amazing.”

Angela Bowker is a Fermi Band alumni. She graduated in 2007 and went on to Westfield State University, from which she graduated in 2012. “I am here today to play with the Westfield State University Band,” Bowker said. “Mr. Reppucci is the one that taught me how to play the trombone. He was an awesome teacher. Now, I am a music teacher in Springfield, Massachusetts, and I still love playing.”

The judges for the event were Bob Ferrier, Ross Novgrad and David Sporny, all of whom have extensive backgrounds on music. The gold medal went to Torrington High School, and the remaining schools received silver medals.


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