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West Hartford’s Hall High School Will Celebrate 60th Annual Pops ‘n Jazz

Hall student Caroline O'Connell. Submitted photo

Hall High’s Pops ’n Jazz will open on March 9, and in honor of the 60th anniversary will reflect a multi-generational theme and feature numerous accomplished Hall alumni.

Drummer Quinn Lane, surrounded by Tobias Segal, Seth Heye-Smith, and Emma Waddell. Submitted photo

Submitted by Lisa Aldave

The 60th annual production of Pops ’n Jazz, featuring Hall High School’s acclaimed jazz bands, dancers, actors, and singers, opens March 9, with additional performances March 10, 15, 16, and 17. Doors open at 7 p.m. and performances begin at 7:30 p.m.

Dancers rehearse for Pops ‘n Jazz. Submitted photo

In celebration of the 60th anniversary, this year’s production reflects a multi-generational theme where three main characters symbolize a specific era of music ranging from big band swing to Motown to a postmodern twist on The Beatles. The audience will be treated to musical and production numbers that echo selections from past Pops ‘n Jazz musical directors, featuring the harmonious sounds of Cole Porter, Duke Ellington, Temptations, Afro Latin Jazz, Marvin Gaye, and Count Basie.

Hall High is especially proud of the Pops ’n Jazz 2018’s guest performers’ roster. Selected artists feature a Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra member, and brings back four of Hall High’s very own Pops ‘n Jazz alumni.

Erica von Kleist. Submitted photo

Erica von Kleist (sax/flute), Hall class of 2000, kicks off the 2018 guest artist roster and performs on March 10. Erica wrote Hall’s Pops ‘n Jazz signature number, “Dance, Dance, Dance,” while a student at Hall High. She is a renowned flautist, saxophonist, composer, and educator. Erica launched her career as a sideman through touring, recording and performing after being one of the first musicians to earn a Bachelor’s degree in jazz at the Juilliard School in 2004. She has performed with the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra, Chris Potter, Wynton Marsalis and the JLCO, Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society, Bebo Valdez, Cachao, Celia Cruz, Kristin Chenoweth, and Seth MacFarlane, among many others. Erica was a National and New England Grammy band participant and has been voted many times as a “Rising Star” and ‘Critic’s Pick” in Downbeat Magazine. Erica has performed on Broadway and been a guest clinician at several schools including the Juilliard School, Stanford University, and Jazz at Lincoln Center Youth Ensemble Programs. Erica has released three albums as a bandleader – “Project E” in 2005, “Erica von Kleist & No Exceptions” in 2009 and “Alpine Clarity” in 2014 which she recorded in her new home of Whitefish, Montana. Learn more about Erica at http://ericavonkleist.com/

On March 15, Pops ‘n Jazz will feature two alumni making their mark in the music industry. Joseph Fierberg (singer), Hall class of 2009, and Kris Allen (alto sax), Hall class of 1994.

Joseph Fierberg. Submitted photo

Joseph Fierberg Joseph began his journey with Pops ’n Jazz when he was selected as a Music All Star in the fifth grade at Aiken Elementary. From that point on he performed annually in Pops ’n Jazz with Sixth Dimension, KP Singers, and continued his involvement through his high school years. Joseph was a member of Jazz Dancers for four years and served as co-captain his senior year, in addition to being a Choralier for two years. Since graduating with a B.F.A. in Musical Theater from Syracuse University, he has worked at several theatres across the nation, including West Hartford’s very own Playhouse on Park in productions of You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown and Chicago, as well as at the Goodspeed Opera House in its production of the new musical, Chasing Rainbows. Joseph was a part of 10 West Hartford SAF productions, starting when he was 11 years old and has returned as a visiting artist in more recent productions. He has toured with the national and international companies of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, and the national company of Elf: The Musical. Joseph would like to thank Emmett Drake and Jim Antonucci for the opportunity to be a part of the outstanding tradition of Pops ’n Jazz, as well his teachers, Haig Shaverdian, John Mastroianni, Lorri Cetto, Marc Kaplan, and Darlene Zoller who instilled within him from a young age a passion for the arts.

Kris Allen. Submitted photo

Kris Allen has performed worldwide, and forged a clear conceptual and aural identity as a composer, arranger, and bandleader. He was drafted twice for the Grammy All American High School Jazz Band and named its most valuable player in 1994. He studied with long time Hartford resident and renowned player, Jackie McLean, at the Hartt School of Music. He has enjoyed a long career as a sought-after sideman, working in the groups of Illinois Jacquet, Gerald Wilson, Helen Sung, and the Mingus Dynasty and Big Band, among many others. Kris is a founding member of the collaborative Jazz Samaritan Alliance, and the Hartford Legacy Big Band. As a composer, Kris has been honored with numerous awards and commissions and has collaborated with dancers, poets, and visual artists, as well as musicians from across diverse genres. Kris is the Lyell B. Clay Artist Artist-In-Residence in Jazz at Williams College, having previously held positions at the Hartt School, Trinity College, Southern Connecticut State University and the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts. He has been a Teaching Artist for Litchfield Performing Arts since 2001, and conducted clinics and master classes at institutions nation and worldwide. His latest release, Beloved, is his second album for the Truth Revolution Recording Collective. Learn more about Kris at https://www.krisallenjazz.com/.

Marcus Printup. Submitted photo

Hall Pops ‘n Jazz 2018 is excited for the opportunity to perform with the talented Marcus Printup (trumpet) on March 16. After being introduced to world renowned trumpeter Wynton Marsalis in 1991, Marcus was invited to join the prestigious Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra where he’s been a member since 1993. He has had the honor of performing on multiple Grammy award winning albums there. In addition, he has performed and recorded with Betty Carter, Diane Reeves, Eric Reed, Cyrus Chestnut among many others, and has led multiple recordings on several major record jazz labels. He is in demand as a facilitator/educator for clinics and masterclasses for Middle Schools, High Schools, and Universities. He’s an educator at JALC’s Essentially Ellington competition and an adjunct faculty member at the New School in Manhattan. Marcus Printup has led multiple recordings on several major record jazz labels – Blue Note Records – Song for the Beautiful Woman, Unveiled, Hub Songs. Nagel Heyer Records – The New Boogaloo and several on Steeplechase Records including his latest Young Bloods. Website – http://www.marcusprintup.net/about-press/.

Richie Barshay. Submitted photo

Richie Barshay (drums), Hall class of 2001, performs on closing night on March 17. Richie Barshay began drumming inside kitchen cabinets at an early age, and continues banging on things worldwide to this day. Noted for his work with the Herbie Hancock Quartet (2003-2007), he’s been dubbed “a major rhythm voice on the rise” by Downbeat magazine. His resume includes performing with Hancock, Chick Corea’s electric band, Esperanza Spalding, Fred Hersch, Lee Konitz, Natalie Merchant, and Bobby McFerrin, among others. Since 2004 he has led outreach projects across five continents as an American Musical Envoy with the U.S. State Department. He can be heard on over 75 recordings including his latest release as leader, Sanctuary (2014), featuring Chick Corea. Learn more about Richie at www.richiebarshay.com/about

Pops ‘n Jazz originated in 1958 by former band director Bill Stanley. The Hall High Jazz Band is honored to debut a dedicated piece composed by one of their very own Pops ‘n Jazz alumnus, Pete McGuinness (trombone, singer) Hall class of 1981, in memory of Bill Stanley. Pete McGuinness, a multiple Grammy nominee, is a respected writer in the jazz community and performs regularly with his own band in the New York City area.

Pops ’n Jazz 2018 features more than 100 student performers.

Hall High School Concert Jazz Band. Photo credit: Edwin DeGroat

Hall’s Concert Jazz Band once again won first place in the Class L2 Division at the Berklee School of Music Jazz Festival in Boston on Feb.10, 2018, and has qualified as one of 15 bands nationally to compete in the 23rd Annual Essentially Ellington Festival at Jazz at Lincoln Center in May. Hall’s Jazz Band placed second in a different division at the Berklee Festival.

Also performing will be Hall’s Jazz Combo, Jazz Dancers, Choraliers (jazz singers), I Giovani Solisti, and actors. The program, which varies slightly each night, offers an array of American jazz classics from all eras, performed in big band and combo settings, highly choreographed jazz productions, and featured solo performances. The show is known for its eclectic blend of music, ranging from traditional and progressive jazz to pop-rock and Broadway.

There will be special performances by King Philip’s Middle School KP Singers (March 9), the King Philip Jazz Band (March 15), Bristow Middle School Jazz Band (March 16), and KP Sixth Dimension (March 17).

On March 10, special recognition will be given to the Hall Junior Artists from Aiken and Norfeldt. On March 17, special recognition will be given to the Hall Junior Artists from Bugbee, Morley, Smith, and Whiting Lane elementary schools in West Hartford.

Pops ’n Jazz is co-produced by James Antonucci, Hall High’s director of Bands and Jazz Bands, and Emmett Drake, Hall High’s Orchestra director and director of I Giovani Solisti. The student actors composed an original script under the Direction of Laura Hutchins. The Jazz Singers are under the direction of Vocal Director Lorri Cetto and the Jazz Dancers are under the direction of Choreographer Tessa Grunwald. Greg Scheiber is the Technical Director. Additional assistance is provided by Hall High parents, teachers, and staff.

Participation of guest performers is supported by the Ellen Jeanne Goldfarb Memorial Charitable Trust.

Tickets to performances are being sold through an online ticketing system with assigned seating through the ticket website: http://hallhighjazz.tix.com. Tickets are $18 for adults and $15 for students and are on sale now online!

Beginning Feb. 26, tickets can also be purchased in person at the Hall High box office. Box office hours will be MondayFriday, 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m.

Like us on Facebook at pops ’n jazz. Follow us on Twitter @pops_jazz or on Instagram @popsnjazz. For more information, please call the Pops ‘n Jazz hotline at 860-929-5151, or visit  www.hallhighjazz.com.

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