SOUTH PORTLAND — Musicians from Mount Desert Island High School hit a high note at the state jazz festival, with the school’s top big band placing second in their division for a performance their director said was virtually flawless.
“The night performance was the best I’ve ever heard them play,” music director Michael Remy said of Big Group, the school’s 17-piece band.
The band qualified for the Saturday night finals at South Portland High School earlier in the day. Big Group received a I rating, the highest rating, from judges during the finals and came in second to Fryeburg Academy.
“It was close,” Remy noted.
Third place went to Old Town High School.
Two members of Big Group, trumpeter Hannah Edgecomb and pianist Ethan Craigo, were singled out as outstanding musicians in the division.
The combo Goo Swisper came in third among the Division II combos in a category again dominated by Fryeburg Academy.
“I felt our group played extremely well,” Remy said.
Somes Sound, the school’s other big band, also received a I rating, Remy said. The group’s bassist, Simon Robertson, received an outstanding musicianship award.
Three other combos performed at the festival. Mailmen, Jeanna Beek and Haymbeg were “exceptional” but did not place, Remy said. However, the scores of MDI bands overall were better than last year, a testament to the hard work of the students, Remy said.
One of the members of Mailmen, trombonist Pierce Vincenty, received an outstanding musicianship award.
The state jazz festival marks the end of the music competition “season” in Maine, but at MDIHS, students aren’t about to stop practicing and performing. Jazz now is a year-round activity on Mount Desert Island, Remy proclaimed.
“I’m really proud of that,” he said.
The next chance to hear some of the high school musicians is at the Neighborhood House in Northeast Harbor, where they will perform at an April 3 benefit for Brennan’s Buddies.
Other gigs will follow, Remy promised.