From left, Elana Williamson, Edward Conte and Gabe Hall are among the best high school musicians in the state. The three GSA students will participate in the Jazz All-State Festival in South Portland in early January.
Williamson, Conte, Hall Headed to Jazz All-States
Elana Williamson ’19 has been chosen to play vibes in the All-State Honors Jazz Band for the second year in a row. Williamson is one of three students from George Stevens Academy selected for the Maine Music Educators Association Jazz All-State Festival, scheduled to take place at South Portland High School Thursday through Saturday, Jan. 3-5.
Williamson, who started playing piano when she was 9 or 10 years old but was introduced to the vibes in fifth grade, said that she loves “the interesting rhythms” of Latin jazz, as well as classic jazz.
Auditions were held at the University of Maine at Augusta on Oct. 12. Williamson said that Steve Orlofsky, who directs the jazz program at GSA, “helped me prepare for my audition,” which “went pretty well” but still made her nervous enough to come to the audition room without her mallets and to have “to run back to the practice room to grab them.”
“Mr. O is a great band director,” she said, and she hopes that he will help her prepare for the festival once she gets her music so that she’ll be as ready as possible for what she looks forward to most, “rehearsing with the entire Honors Jazz Band, a group of “very talented musicians that push you to be better.”
Also selected to participate in the festival was Edward Conte ’19, who will play drums in the rhythm section of the All-State Jazz Choir. He took up drumming because he wanted to be like his older brother Peter, who also played drums at GSA. Like Williamson, it’s Latin jazz that appeals most to him.
Gabe Hall ’22 will play trumpet in the Jazz Band, a rare honor for a freshman.
“I’m very proud and happy for Elana, Gabe, and Edward,” said Orlofsky. “The festival accepts only 11 trumpets, and Gabe is considered one of the best trumpet players in the state; the festival only takes five drummers, and Edward is one of those drummers; and the festival only accepts one vibes player, and Elana is the one and only. A remarkable achievement by these three students.”
With their respective ensembles, the students will rehearse with guest conductors Thursday evening, all day Friday, and Saturday morning to prepare four or five musical selections. They will play these sets during a grand finale concert open to the public on Saturday, Jan. 5, at 2 p.m. in the South Portland High School auditorium.
UPDATE: Click the following link to see a brief Facebook post about their time with their mentors at the festival Jazz All-State Facebook Post