The Boothbay Opera House created opportunities to see prominent music ensembles—all at no charge—for Lincoln Academy jazz band students during the 2016-2017 school year. The two events: a performance by the US Jazz Ambassadors in the fall, and another by the Alliage Quintet in spring are an “invaluable piece of a performing arts education” according to Director of Bands and Jazz Bands Liz Matta, as the opportunity to watch a live performance of professionals who play either the same style of music or the same instruments is not only fun but inspiring for our students.”
“It was incredible to watch such professional performers who not only were giving an incredible show but also serving our country. The level of playing was incredible and it was so cool that we got to work on the songs we heard after the concert,” said Jojo Martin ’20, who plays vibes and piano in the Jazz Big Band.
As the military’s premier jazz band, the Ambassadors seek to share jazz as an institution of American history and culture; the group spreads patriotism both at home and abroad with traditional and contemporary jazz literature with spotlight moments for soloists. When Big Band students saw the Ambassadors, they witnessed professional applications of the methods they themselves put into practice. “Students commented about the improvisation techniques the Ambassadors were using and how we are striving to use the same concepts,” said Matta.
The experience of seeing professional performers gives students a standard to aspire to, as the style and rigor of the ensembles and individual players provides an inside look at the highest levels of musicianship. The Alliage Quintet, a German-based saxophone group that performs internationally, fit the bill. As for their technique, Matta noted that “our students were watching the embouchures, the breathing, the sense of ensemble of the group and we were able to have very specific conversations after that performance.”
Matta and her students all expressed their gratitude to Cathy Sherrill, Kevin Kiley and the rest of the Boothbay Opera House staff for “such wonderful opportunities.”
Nathan McIvor is a 2017 graduate of Lincoln Academy and an intern in the LA Communications Office