By INDIA KRUG – For students in the band department, many acclaimed jazz musicians are contained within sheet music– mere names connected to the songs they wrote or performed. The Artist in Residence program provides something more tangible: bringing the musicians straight to Indiana, PA.
It is a massive undertaking– the music wing becomes a hubbub of excitement as the date draws nearer. Hotels are booked, ensembles are constructed, caterers are called, and students are told to practice their music for goodness’ sake.
2018’s Artist in Residence proved to be another successful installment of the annual program. Thursday morning saw the arrival of Canadian-born singer, trumpeter, and student workshop enthusiast Bria Skonberg to IHS. She spent a day rehearsing and chatting with members of the jazz bands, wrapping up with a question-and-answer seminar before a concert during tenth period.
Junior Conner Montgomery said, “It was a great learning opportunity- Bria was able to share her knowledge of improvisation and performance techniques with all of us.”
While the Artist in Residence program is a good academic experience, it also provides inspiration and guidance for students looking to make music a profession. Skonberg shared her trek through the jazz industry– from playing trumpet in seventh grade to moving to New York City.
Sophomore Lily Boulard stated, “Working with a successful artist is such an inspiring experience. It really made me rediscover my love for music and why I want to do this with my life.”
Various groups shared the stage at that night’s concert, the youngest entertainers hailing from the Horace Mann Elementary Jazz Band. Ensembles from the Junior High and High School showcased an array of tunes: from funk to New Orleans swing to jazz standards. Vocalists exhibited their talents in jazz combos as well as big bands.
Despite her seemingly larger-than-life talent, Skonberg comes from humble upbringings. She is a product of the public school system– a participant of the same programs and classes that students at IHS benefit from.
Junior Anthony Bevevino commented, “Bria was truly an inspiration. Not only as a musician, but as a human being. She was extremely courteous and she took time out of her day to talk and spend time with us and to connect with us in many different ways.”
As previous IHS Band Director, Mr. Nevin Saylor, always says, “Jazz is alive and well in Indiana, PA.”
[Photo by Erik Puskar]
Photo Caption: “Senior Clara Sherwood performs with Bria Skonberg, 2018’s Artist in Residence.”