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The Homer Horizon 012518

22 | January 25, 2018 |

22 | January 25, 2018 | The Homer Horizon HOMER GLEN life & arts the Homer Horizon | January 25, 2018 | 23 D92 bands heat up the stage at Winter Concert Mary Compton Freelance Reporter When an eighth-grade saxophone player from the Oak Prairie Jazz Band became ill before the Winter Concert on Thursday, Jan. 18, band director Bill Rank knew the show must go on. So, sitting among the sax players in the front row, Rank did double duty of performing and directing. “I’ve done this before,” Rank said. “I jump right in. I can fill in on trumpet, on trombone and even on string bass if I needed to. I have a trumpet and clarinet with me all day.” The band director and music technology teacher from Oak Prairie was a bonus as he performed a solo along with other Jazz Band members at the Winter Concert at Ludwig School. “These students are selfmotivated,” Rank said. “They try and improve everyday; that is key at this age.” Besides being a band director and music technology teacher, Rank plays professionally in a band called Brass Tracks Jazz Orchestra. In fact, Rank brought the Oak Prairie Jazz Band to open for them at Hackney’s restaurant a few weeks ago. “The experience of doing shows and performing, these students learn how to improvise and react to musicians in different ways,” Rank said. “Every night, it’s a different story. The school stage sounds different than Hackney’s. Besides that, the students also learn to interact on stage and respond to each other and work together without talking to each other. Music is cool when you’re interacting with sound and visual clues.” One of the pieces performed by the band during the Winter Concert was “Paquito’s Revenge.” “It’s one of my favorite songs for the students to perform,” Rank said. “The song is influenced by Paquito D’Rivera, a saxophone player from Brazil. The harmonic progression is a nice minor two-five. It has nice flowing lines and the counter point with the horns and saxophones. It was a tough piece. We’ve been working on that song all year.” Jazz band member Keagan Schmeckpeper played a solo in “Paquito’s Revenge.” “I felt my solo went well,” Schmeckpeper said. “‘Paquito’s Revenge’ is one of my favorite songs to perform. I’d like to play ‘Danny Boy’ in the future.” The Oak Prairie Jazz Band will be busy performing at the upcoming Prairie State Jazz Festival and the Naperville Big Band Festival. For a closer venue, the band will perform at Lockport Township High School’s East Campus on March 9. Before the Jazz Band performed, the Ludwig fifthgrade band held their first performance of the year. The band is directed by Anissa Danley and Dee Nommensen, who work with about 87 students. “The students did a nice job for their first concert,” Danley said. “We always get a little nervous that they can pull it all together, and they did.” The fifth-grade band performed three songs: “High Adventure,” “Selections from Tradition of Excellence” and “Dragonfly.” “We like ‘Dragonfly,’” Danley said. “It’s been a tradition. All the fifth-grade Ivanna Gonzalez, member of the Ludwig fifth-grade band, performs “High Adventure” Thursday, Jan. 18, during the Winter Concert at Ludwig School. Photos by Mary Compton/22nd Century Media bands in the past 13 years have played it for their very first concert.” Playing the flute, Tara Mastorakos, of Homer Glen, enjoyed performing in her first concert. “I really enjoyed performing with everyone,” Mastorakos said. “My favorite song tonight was ‘Dragonfly.’ I’m looking forward to performing ‘Pink Panther.’” Another first for the evening was the first time Nommensen directed her 11-year-old son, Caden. “I wasn’t nervous at all,” Caden said. “My favorite song of the concert was ‘Dragonfly’ because we get to buzz our mouthpieces.” His mother, Dee, couldn’t agree more. “I wasn’t nervous, either,” she said. “The kids were fantastically prepared. We began rehearsing with them in September, they took all that training and put it together tonight. I work with them in small groups because I get to know them better, and I get to help them be the best that they can be.” After the fifth-grade band performed, they turned their chairs around to view the performance of the Oak Prairie Jazz Band. “We do that to have the students see what they are listening to,” Danley said. “It shows them what they can do in a few years.” RIGHT: Hannah Hupke performs “Dragonfly” with the Ludwig fifth-grade band during the Winter Concert.