Jazz gig with a master
Jiggs Whigham, a well-known jazz trombonist, jams with student musicians from Department of Defense Dependents Schools in Europe during a Jan. 17 performance at the Stadthalle in Landstuhl, Germany

LANDSTUHL, Germany -- Student musicians wrapped the 2013 Department of Defense Dependents School Europe Jazz Seminar with a free concert at Landstuhl's Stadthalle on Jan 17.

Professor Jiggs Whigham, a well-known jazz trombonist and educator, led the ensemble. The packed house enjoyed 90 minutes of big band jazz, focused on the music of Stan Kenton. The concert was the culmination of the weeklong DoDDS-Europe seminar, which celebrated its 30th anniversary this year.

Top student musicians from American schools across Europe converged on Ramstein Air Base. More than 100 students from 20 high schools auditioned for the 35 positions in the Big Band Ensemble. Eight students were part of a Jazz Vocal Ensemble.

"This group is hands down the best," Whigham told crowd, "They came prepared and they were serious about it. But we had a ball."

During the week Air Force and Army jazz musicians performed for the group. The student musicians also held performances at Kaiserslautern and Ramstein High schools. DoDDS-E music educators assisted in instruction, rehearsals and performances.

Vocalist Mackenzie Roche, 18, a Vicenza High School senior, has been singing most of his life. His father, a retired Army officer, works for U.S. Army Africa at Vicenza's Caserma Ederle. Roche said he's grateful to DoDDS-E for the opportunity to travel, meet new people and learn more about his art.

"I gain experience through other people talents, their gifts," Roche said. "You help one another and get to understand different ways of singing and different warms ups. We learned a lot about jazz. That's really cool."

The seminar's Landstuhl gig exemplifies the highest level of performance DoDDS-E offers, where nerve wracking preparations are coupled with excitement and energy, said Jeff Pellaton, the seminar's music director and Ramstein High School's band director.

"Music is a circle, you can't close the loop until your perform, until you give it away," seminar's music director Jeff Pellaton, who is the band director at Ramstein High School said. "Everything in music culminates in some kind of performance, whether it be private or public, you have to give the music away."

Toward the end of the Landstuhl concert, Mason Price, 17, a trumpet player from Ramstein High School, stepped forward for his solo.

"We do this for the experience, but it's also for the music," Price said. "Playing in place like this is great. People get to experience what we've been working for all week."

His father, Maj. Roger Price, an Army healthcare administration officer at European Regional Medical Command in Heidelberg, said that over the past four year he's seen Mason bloom through DoDDS music and athletic programs.

"He's a young man who has had opportunities to grow," Roger Price said. "I will always remember this as a place that nurtured those fantastic talents and gave him those opportunities."

Page last updated Wed January 23rd, 2013 at 00:00