About 20 students arrived in Bellevue this week, ready to rehearse in two 12-hour sessions before launching into a set of jazz standards at a public concert Saturday night.
Four of the musicians — Elijah Hyatt, Gavin Allen-Dunn, Andrew Lanning and Collin Iedema — come from the Tri-Cities.
All were excited to be part of the event, held every two years. The concert is to be performed in the grand ballroom of the Westin Bellevue Hotel.
They were chosen by the National Association of Music Educators northwest division, from schools in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and Alaska.
“It’s kind of incredible, honestly,” said Andrew, a Hanford High School trombone player. “It’s a 20-person band, and 20 percent of it came from the Tri-Cities.”
For Elijah, a second Hanford High School trombone player, the event offers him a chance to meet talented musicians. The conductor, Michael Dease, is a jazz trombonist.
Gavin, a Kamiakin piano player, was chosen for the all-state jazz band last year.
“Meeting all these kids from all of these other states is going to be so fun,” he said. “I’m super excited about it.”
Collin, a Richland High alto sax player, agreed.
“We all like to play music, but it’s a cool opportunity to meet up with some of the top players in the Northwest high schools,” he said.
To apply, they needed to participate in their school’s music performing group and submit a recording of their audition material. They learned they were going to be part of the band in early December. They received the music, a collection of jazz standards, about a month before leaving for the concert.
All of the boys practiced with the music by themselves, so they could learn their parts before arriving. Part of the challenge in creating an ensemble across six states is that none of the musicians can hear what the music sounds like with an entire band.
“That’s why you listen to recordings,” Gavin said.
“Especially playing bass trombone,” Andrew agreed. “Nothing you play will ever sound right unless you hear everything else.”
While most of the teens had instruments to practice, a family car flattened Elijah’s trombone recently. The case is still torn, though the instrument was recently restored.
The four teens expressed a love for music extending back to their time in elementary school. Both of the Hanford students said they picked an instrument when they started middle school, and Gavin started playing piano when he was 4.
They branch into different forms of music, and enjoy the freedom jazz offers.
“I like the appeal of a crazy and improvisational form of music that I can express myself freely in,” Gavin said. “If I had a choice to play whatever I wanted, it would probably be jazz.”
With three of four of the teens graduating from high school at the end of the year, the concert gives them something else to include on their college applications.
“Music is something that’s fun,” Andrew said. “It’s become like a habit. I don’t know what else I would do.”