DES MOINES - The South O'Brien High School Jazz Band finished the year on a high note, so to speak, when it competed at the Iowa Jazz Championships in Des Moines on Tuesday, impressing the judges enough to advance to the finals of the Class 2A competition.
Playing under the direction of Interim Director Kevin Linder, the O'Brien County unit was chosen from among eight bands to compete against another perennial powerhouse, Southern Cal (Lake City), in the Tuesday evening finals. Southern Cal was awarded the first place trophy at the end of the evening, but South O'Brien's second place finish was certainly a major accomplish.
Despite losing their director from last year's State Championship band, the South O'Brien ensemble was able to regroup this year, under the direction of the veteran Linder (a trumpeter by profession,and a member of the Iowa Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band, The Magnificent Board of Directors), and return to Des Moines to defend its 2008 2A championship.
Along with the band's solid showing on Tuesday, South O'Brien's Kaitlyn Aberson received recognition as an Outstanding Performer, and will receive $150 in scholarship money as part of her award. Southern Cal's win was the school's seventh state championship, including last year, when - competing in Class 1A - they defeated Aurelia for the championship of that class.
Other Northwest Iowa bands competing in Tuesday's Championships included Storm Lake and Spirit Lake in Class 3A; Okoboji, which placed fourth in Class 2A; Rock Valley, which was third in Class 1A; Kingsley-Pierson, which placed seventh in Class 1A; and Cherokee Washington, which placed eighth in Class 2A.