Fuqua Falcons put on a night to enjoy

Published 4:51 pm Friday, May 5, 2023

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By Elena Meader

The Farmville Herald

Fuqua School’s 2023 Jazz Night offered a performance of lively instrumentals and an atmosphere that couldn’t be tamed. This year’s concert took place on April 14 in the Upper School gym and had around 125 attendees. They all watched as the band and director Tyler Gage performed three sets, with five songs per set. 

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“It was more music than we were used to playing, which made it more difficult for brass,” said senior flutist Rachel Mason. “However, because I was switching between the flute and bass guitar, it was easier for me.” 

Jumping straight in, the concert started with Things Ain’t What They Used To Be by Duke Ellington, setting the audience up for an exciting night. As the night progressed, there were eight senior soloists featured in one song named St. Louis Blues. The band members wrote the solos themselves to show the improvisation in the jazz genre. 

Several other solos were performed throughout the night including ones by Olivia Fortune on trumpet, Jackson Hicks on baritone, Kaleb Knott with the alto saxophone and Brandon Siler on the trumpet. Gage also performed his own solo during one of the songs called Pick up the Pieces with his trumpet. A tricky part of the performance was bringing in an outside bass guitarist, who the band had not practiced with before that night. Thanks to that bass player, Nick Gamman, the Fuqua School band was able to perform songs that needed bass guitar.  After 15 songs and three hours of playing, the band ended the night with the song 25 or 6 to 4 by Chicago. 

More about Jazz Night

Jazz Night has become increasingly popular within the community, with many people, including parents, grandparents, and other students lining up to listen to the band perform. The jazz concert has gotten quite the reputation of being entertaining and bringing back the feeling of nostalgia for everyone in the audience. 

Fuqua students say one of the reasons Jazz Night has become so popular is because of the history behind it. Let’s take a look at the importance of jazz as a genre. It originated in New Orleans in the early 20th century, influenced by a number of different elements including folk, blues, and rituals, which constructed jazz by using strong instruments such as trumpets, trombones, and saxophones. 

“Jazz music iterates true American music, it’s what hip hop really was born from, so I think it’s important to show the American music style playing from these classical instruments,” Gage said.  

The evolution of jazz has developed into pop culture with many bands using traditionally jazz instruments in their mainstream music. 

Jazz Night is an integral part of the band program because of the opportunities it provides the Fuqua students, they say. Using the money raised from the concert, the band takes a trip to Orlando every four years to branch out beyond the community and onto a bigger stage to perform their music. 

During the jazz concert, there are tables set up for the audience to be able to sit down and enjoy food and drink while the band is performing. This year during the jazz concert, hors d’oeuvres were served along with many different beverage choices. In between sets, the band members went to speak with the members of the audience, asking them questions about the show and how they were enjoying themselves. 

One of the main goals of the band is to connect with the community not only through music, but also through personal connections. Thanks to everyone’s hard work, the Fuqua School Band was able to create a great jazz concert for everyone to enjoy.