Jackson High School ensemble readies for Carnegie Hall concert

MILL CREEK — Parker Duvall is ready to follow in some of his older brother’s footsteps.

Four years ago his brother, Evan, played the saxophone in a school ensemble at Carnegie Hall in New York City. Now Duvall, 18, is preparing with other members of the Henry M. Jackson High School Honors Wind and Percussion Ensemble to take the same stage.

He’ll play the trumpet.

“I heard it’s like you feel an aura when you’re on stage, I did get that much from my brother,” Duvall said. “It’s almost spooky just because of how sacred that place is. So many greats have performed there and now we get to. It’s a huge opportunity.”

The Jackson High School Honors Wind and Percussion Ensemble is scheduled to perform in an Ensemble Spotlight Series on May 26. The school ensemble includes about 80 student musicians and is led by conductor Lesley Moffat.

Moffat last spring submitted an audition tape for the ensemble to be part of the concert program. Each student going on the five-day trip was responsible for paying $2,500 to cover costs.

In the time leading up to their departure, students will rehearse and complete an assignment to learn about Carnegie Hall and New York City, Moffat said. She plans to begin rehearsing the music after her students perform Feb. 11 in the Mount Pilchuck Music Educators Association Solo-Ensemble Contest at Cascade High School in Everett.

“I don’t really want to start playing this stuff until after the festival because of the burnout factor,” Moffat said. “(Solo-Ensemble) is a big deal for these guys; they take it pretty seriously.”

The planned program for May 26 includes “Montmarte March,” “Rhapsody in Blue,” and selections from “Carmina Burana.”

Senior Daniel Chong, 18, has been part of the Jackson High School Honors Wind and Percussion Ensemble and Jazz 1 Ensemble for the past three years. He is to perform a piano solo during “Rhapsody in Blue.”

Playing the solo adds a little more pressure to his rehearsals, Chong said. He’s already learned the piece, and is more excited than he is nervous about his first trip to New York City.

“I’m looking forward to everything; all the music scenes, all the famous jazz clubs, being at Carnegie Hall, and just being where all the famous musicians have been in the past,” he said.

Senior Michayla DeFuria, 17, said she’s looking forward to visiting several jazz clubs in the city. While many in the ensemble group will be making their first trip to New York, DeFuria, visited years ago during a school break.

She walked by Carnegie Hall but didn’t go inside, DeFuria said.

The trombonist is one of 22 students who begin their school day at 6:30 a.m. in the school’s top Jazz 1 Ensemble. The New York trip may have been an incentive for some to continue the school’s band program, she said, but for her, it was a bonus.

“Music is really my passion,” she said. “I want to teach music when I grow up.”

For Moffat, the experience will mark the second time that three generations in her family have shared the stage at Carnegie Hall.

Her eldest daughter, Kelly, performed there in 2008 with the school’s Honors Wind and Percussion Ensemble while Moffat’s father, who was also her high school band conductor, Bruce Caldwell, was a guest conductor.

In May, Moffat’s father plans to again be a guest conductor while her daughter, Meagan, a senior percussionist, will perform in the ensemble.

Moffat hopes her students will appreciate playing at Carnegie Hall, where only those who perform are allowed to be on stage. She also would like the chance to continue the tradition in another four years, Moffat added.

“My youngest daughter is already talking about a trip in 2016,” she said.

Sophomore Sri Nimmagadda, 16, who plays French horn, hopes that when his New York experience is over he’ll have memories to treasure forever.

“In the end you just have these memories with your friends that are really close to you and that’s fantastic,” he said.

Amy Daybert: 425-339-3491; adaybert@heraldnet.com.

Preview concert

The Henry M. Jackson High School Honors Wind and Percussion Ensemble is planning a Carnegie Hall Preview Concert at 7 p.m. on May 17 at the school, 1508 136th St. SE in Mill Creek.

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