Three Stirling High School pupils were on stage playing alongside some of the nation’s best jazz musicians at the Standard Bank National Youth Jazz Festival.
The festival, which formed part of the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown recently, saw 350 young musicians from around the country gathered to play, learn and listen to great jazz sounds.
Of the 350 musos, only a few were selected to play for the national band.
Regional auditions were held around the country in June, culminating in the final auditions in Grahamstown. Those selected constituted a strong, young band which was conducted by Cape Town trombonist and jazz educator Kelly Bell.
Matric pupils Lise Siebert and Emily Webster, who play baritone sax and trombone, and Grade 11 pupil Eldene Bruiners on trumpet, were among those chosen for the national band.
Stirling brass teacher Leonard Brandt said he was proud of the pupils, who had worked very hard during the year in prepping for the festival.
“The competition in Grahamstown from around the country was very stiff and they proved that East London is still producing strong young jazz talent,” he said.
Siebert said playing for the band had been a great experience for her. The chance to learn from some of the greatest musicians was her highlight.
“There were a lot of professional musicians whom we got a chance to learn from. Playing with national jazz bands was also amazing.”
Bruiners, who has been playing the trumpet for two years, said making it to the band alone was a great honour. The young musician said the experience was personal and emotional, and learning from great, knowledgeable musicians had also been a highlight for him.
“The experience was absolutely amazing. Playing for the Standard Bank National Youth Jazz Festival has been a lifelong dream for me. Having renowned musicians like James Morrison to gain knowledge from had a big impact on me,” he said.
Webster, who this year made the band for the second time, said her highlights were both meeting James Morrison and attending his performances. “The festival was amazing. There is such a great vibe and getting to learn so much and share this experience with friends was really great,” she added. — firstname.lastname@example.org