The MDI High School jazz band rehearses for the upcoming Maine State Instrumental Jazz Festival in Hampden. PHOTO COURTESY OF MICHAEL REMY

MDI High School musicians prepare for jazz festival

BAR HARBOR — For the first time since 2019, the Mount Desert Island High School Jazz Band will be performing live this weekend at the Maine State Jazz Instrumental Festival, hosted by Hampden Academy. 

When last year’s state music festival went virtual, MDI High School decided not to participate because coordinating a recorded performance was difficult.  

“Playing music virtually is almost impossible because we can’t do anything in real time,” said music teacher and band director Michael Remy. 

Hampden Academy will host an in-person state festival where Maine high schools will each perform three songs over the two days. The MDI High School jazz band is set to perform in the morning on Saturday, March 19.   

“I know it will be in the morning, but I’m not actually sure what time it will be,” said Remy.  

Musicians will have to wear instrument face masks (a face covering with a mouth hole) and bell covers on their instruments. 

In a typical year before the state festival is held, a preliminary district-wide instrumental jazz event is also held, but Remy said that those events were waived this year for Hancock and Washington counties. 

With the easing of pandemic protocols, jazz band members have been rehearsing since the beginning of the school year. “We’ve had no (COVID-19) transmission whatsoever as a result of the band because we mostly wear masks,” Remy said. 

Some songs that will be performed by the jazz band at the state festival include pieces that the students have been working on since the pandemic began.  

“We paid money last year to someone who wrote an exclusive piece for us called ‘Incredible’ that was not performed last year because we were informed two days prior to the festival that it was canceled,” Remy said.  

The student musicians are also set to play a composition called ‘Blue Yonder’ by Christine Jenson. The band has yet to decide what they will do for a third piece, but Remy said they will most likely pick a ballad that features a trombonist. 

Remy is proud that the high school was able to keep the music program’s momentum going throughout the pandemic. “I think because we entered our music program somewhat normally for the first time in two years that the kids were really stoked to be back at it,” he said, and he is grateful that his students have been energetic and passionate this entire year. 

Ninah Rein

Ninah Rein

Writer at Mount Desert Islander
Ninah Rein, an MDI native, covers news and features in the Bar Harbor area. She is glad to be back in Maine after earning a bachelor's degree in San Diego from the University of California.
Ninah Rein

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