Two choirs go to Michigan for competition

By Matthew Allen, Staff Writer — Notables and Drifters are looking forward to attending the vocal jazz invitational in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

As March 27 comes closer, vocal jazz groups, Notables and Drifters, directed by Mary Meese and Brian Kieffer, prepare for the Western Michigan University Gold Company Vocal Jazz Invitational. The goal of this invitational is to let students have an opportunity to perform high level Jazz literature in front of an audience who appreciate Jazz literature. Drifters and Notables spend 10 weeks practicing their songs in and out of school to prepare for this event.

“This year is different because there are new people, new songs, and a brand new process,” sophomore Tyson Upshaw said. “I am very motivated this year.”

Drifters practice Tuesdays and Thursdays after school from 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m., while Notables practice Mondays and Wednesdays after school from 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. For many students, this is their first time going to a vocal jazz invitational.

“This is my first year going to Western Michigan,” freshman Rachel Gilmore said. “I am very excited because it will be an amazing experience,” Gilmore said.

This invitational includes many high schools from other states and even Canada and Germany. Mostly groups come from all over the midwest and northeast. Both Notables and Drifters are bringing four songs to the table to sing. Each song is a Jazz song and includes a scatt. A scatt is a part of a song sang that uses words such as Did, Dah, Oo, Didley, etc.

“All groups have 20 minutes to sing however many pieces they are singing,” choir director Mary Meese said.

The groups that come to this invitational are also judged. These groups get a grade from a scale of one to five with five being the worst and one being the best. The groups are graded for a variety of different vocal techniques.

“This year will be my second year competing,” sophomore Gwen Mitchell said. “Western is an incredible opportunity and it has been one of the most influential place I have ever been to.”

Both Vocal Jazz groups will be competing the whole day on March 28.

“At the invitational, there is an ensemble singing every 25 minutes from 8 a.m. to 3:20 p.m.” Meese said.

Overall, the Invitational Jazz Festival is an opportunity for high school vocal Jazz students to perform their pieces of music and to show other schools how their school performs vocal Jazz literature.

[Updated Aug. 12, 2017: This article has been reformatted for consistency.]