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Jazz Bands fare well at state

Monday, April 9, 2007

The award-winning Aurelia Jazz Band enters the gym at Aurelia, the day after capturing first place at the State. Photo by Dan Whitney.
Aurelia earns first, MMC and Cherokee fifth at State

By Dan Whitney

Staff Writer

As mentioned in last Friday's Chronicle Times, Cherokee County was well-represented at Tuesday's State Jazz Band Championships in Des Moines, sending three schools - Marcus-Meriden-Cleghorn, Cherokee Washington, and Aurelia- to the Capital City.

The even better news is that when the three schools got to Des Moines, "they done good." Real good, in fact.

Marcus-Meriden-Cleghorn, under the direction of Leah Jacobs, was awarded fifth place in the Class 1A competition, and Paul McEntaffer's Cherokee Washington band received the same honor in Class 2A.

Placing fifth in the State is a marvelous accomplishment, and the band members and directors at MMC and Washington should be very proud of themselves, as their hard work and early morning practices have paid off. The band members' parents, and the communities of Cherokee, Marcus, Meriden, and Cleghorn, too, should take the time to tell all the young artists and their conductors "well done."

Over in Aurelia, they were celebrating on Wednesday afternoon, the day after the Aurelia Jazz Band, after nine straight trips to Des Moines and no State championships, played "The Tenth Time Is the Charm" Tuesday night, earning first place at State. Let me say that again - the Aurelia Jazz Band earned FIRST place at the State!

Aurelia Jazz Band director Jason Heeren spoke to the large "Welcome Home" crowd at Aurelia on April 4th. Photo by Dan Whitney.
Several cars met the band as they drove into town Wednesday, and they escorted the group to the school, where the band was rightfully saluted for their achievement by a very large crowd, including the entire k-12 student body. Director Jason Heeren saluted his troops for their hard work and perseverance, and said they are an example to others to never give up, that eventually hard work always pays off.

In addition to the 21-piece band's first place trophy, three band members were singled out for their achievements in Des Moines. Courtney Glienke and Brian Jansen received "Outstanding Soloist" awards for their work on Upright Bass and Alto Saxophone, respectively, and Andrew Perry was named an "Outstanding Performer-" even though the senior trombonist had no solos in the Aurelia band's program.

The band presented their first place trophy to High School Principal Dave Hickman, for inclusion in the school's trophy case, bringing more cheers from the overflow crowd.

Aurelia Principal Dave Hickman holds the trophy aloft for all to see, with Heeren in the background. Photo by Dan Whitney. [Click to enlarge]
After a brief rest , Heeren and his young musicians plunge into preparation for a trip to Dallas,Texas on April 26th, where they will perform, see the sites, and meet the man who composed one of the numbers they played at the State Contest, "A -Town Blues," which was commissioned by the school.

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