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John P. Stevens band program celebrates achievements


EDISON – The John P. Stevens High School Band Program has announced the following achievements for 2017-18 thus far.

Thirty-six band members were accepted through audition to the Central Jersey Region Bands. Four of those members were selected on a second instrument.

Twenty-two band members were accepted through audition to the New Jersey All-State Band. Three of those members were selected on a second instrument. The following students placed first overall: Xavier Lee on clarinet, Shivam Yadav on bass clarinet, Abhishek Taruvai on tenor saxophone and Brian Jiang on trumpet.

Eight band members were accepted to perform at the NAfME All-Eastern Division Band Conference, comprised of 13 states along the East Coast, in April 2017. The JPS Wind Ensemble also was accepted to perform during the conference, which occurs once every two years.

The largest number of students were accepted into Region, All-State and All-Eastern Band from any one school.

Varun Das, senior drummer, was accepted through audition to the Grammy Jazz Band. While touring for one week with the best high school jazz musicians in America, Varun performed at famous New York City jazz venues, recorded an album and played at the Grammy after-party.

The nationally-recognized High School Wind Ensemble was invited to play at the N.J. State Gala and Mid-Atlantic Honors Wind Band Festival.

The 2017 Jazz Ensemble was the New Jersey Association of Jazz Educators (NJAJE) Group A State Champion. In addition, the Jazz Ensemble won awards for best trumpet section, best rhythm section, best soloist: trumpet, Zachary Kibel; best soloist: saxophone, Cheikh Higgs; and best sight reading band.

This year’s version also has been selected to perform at Trumpets, a jazz club in Montclair, on March 28, as the opening band for the “One More Once Big Band”. The featured soloist with both bands will be the world-renowned jazz trumpeter Ingrid Jensen.

The Lab Jazz Band also is a perennial state finalist.

The 185-member Marching Hawks placed first at USBands New Jersey State Championships in Group VI Open, receiveing the highest score overall and winning caption awards for Best Music and Best Visual.

The Marching Hawks placed first overall in the USBands New Jersey Regional Championship Preliminaries, winning caption awards for Best Music, Best Visual and Best Overall Effect. In the evening, the Marching Hawks finished third overall (Finals), winning caption awards for Best Music and Best Color Guard.

The Marching Hawks placed third at USBands National Championships at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford.

“Our program is designed to allow any student regardless of their playing ability to be involved in multiple ways. Our concert and marching bands are open to all and our jazz bands are selected through audition.  Wind Ensemble is also an audition-only group. We encourage students to study privately and try out for Regional and All-State bands. By doing so, we allow all students to progress at their own speed. Demanding but understanding and fair is a credo we like to follow,” band directors Andrew DeNicola and John Zazzali said in a joint statement.
According to Arathi Natarajan, parent of Varun Das, a senior drummer in the band program, the band directors deserve the credit.
“Not only do they make every J. P. Stevens High School ensemble the best, they motivate and encourage the students and give them every opportunity to shine. They promote a sense of belonging among the students. Our students are bound to succeed,” Natarajan said.
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