From Bob McParland
Comm. High School Dist. 218
The jazz ensemble from Richards High School wins awards in competitions each year; but no group has won trophies like the current edition.
After claiming the Grand Champion award for best performance at the Herscher Swing and Sing Festival, the ensemble earned top honors at two more contests — on the same day and 150 miles apart.
The jazz ensemble and jazz combo each earned Division I ratings, the highest possible, at the Chicago Area Jazz Festival at TF South High School. Later the same day, the bands traveled to Illinois State University in Normal to perform at the Illinois State University Jazz Invitational. The jazz band won first place in Class AAA and won the Grand Champion award as the top performing group among all divisions. Junior Madeline Doon was selected as one of the five outstanding soloists
The band also received the honor of performing as the opening act for the Saturday Night Grand Finale concert at Illinois State. Richards students performed with the university’s jazz band and guest jazz trumpet artist Wayne Bergeron.
Richards band director Charles Martin, an accomplished professional musician who has taught three decades, always has proved a tough grader. He did not qualify his praise for his current group of students.
“They are some of the most dedicated and hardest working and committed students that I have ever had the pleasure to teach in my over 30 years of being a music educator. They are a joy to teach,” said Martin.
Aside from the Grand Champion trophy at Herscher, jazz ensemble and Encore, the Richards show choir, combined to win The Sweepstakes Awards for the second year in a row. This trophy goes to the school with the choral and instrumental groups that combine for the most points together.