Workshop and concert
On Thursday, April 11, students from John Jay and Edgemont High Schools’ vocal jazz ensembles will participate in workshops with the University of North Texas’s Jazz Singers—one of the premiere college vocal jazz ensemble in the country.
The day will culminate in a free public concert at 7:00 p.m. at the Edgemont High School theater featuring the University of North Texas’ Jazz Singers, John Jay Vocal Jazz, and Edgemont High School’s Vocal Jazz Ensemble. The groups will sing separately as well as perform “Embraceable You,” the Gershwin jazz standard, as an ensemble.
John Jay and Edgemont High Schools at the Berklee High School Jazz Festival
The unique collaboration is the creation of what one could call the power couple of high school vocal jazz
For the past fifty-one years, big bands, combos, and vocal jazz ensembles from around the country have competed at the Berklee High School Jazz Festival in Boston. This past January, two Westchester schools shared the spotlight. John Jay’s Vocal Jazz Ensemble won first place for larger schools. Edgemont High School’s Vocal Jazz Ensemble took top honors for smaller schools—for the sixth consecutive year.
The conductor of John Jay’s vocal jazz group is Steve Morse. Edgemont’s conductor is Kelley Morse. The two accomplished directors, who are married, collaborated to create the inter-district vocal jazz workshop for students and concert for the public.
University of North Texas Jazz Singers
the three jazz ensembles will begin by singing for each other
“We decided to bring in the best vocal jazz ensemble in the country to work with our students,” said Steven Morse. “The University of North Texas’ award-winning and amazing Jazz Singers.”
“We’ll start the day by doing a musical exchange,” said Jennifer Barnes, conductor of the University of North Texas Jazz Singers, meaning that the three jazz ensembles will sing for each other. “It’s a fun and inspiring way to connect students from two different high schools and the college students.”
“Musicians think about a vocal ensemble the same way that athletes think about their team,” said Barnes. “It’s about using individual strengths to work together. The challenges are what make it rewarding."
the secret is to shaping musical teenagers into #1 high school vocal jazz ensembles?
One might wonder what the Morse family secret is to shaping musical teenagers into the nation’s #1 high school vocal jazz ensembles.
“I think it’s allowing the kids to organically feel the music as opposed to just reading notes,” said Steve Morse. “By the directors—whether it’s me, Kelley, or any number of good directors out there—being willing to let go and trust the kids and trust the music you picked.”
Each school that takes top honors at the Berklee High School Jazz Festival receives three 50% scholarships for students to attend their prestigious summer programs.
John Jay will be sending Katie Gebbia, a rising senior, for jazz; Scott Weinstein, a rising junior, for musical theater; and Daniel Zitomer, a rising senior, for jazz.