5 gigs in 5 days …. how did they do it???

We all know the Music Department at Kirrawee High School is one of the busiest hubs in the school. On any given day, you can pop into the music department and find a hive of activity. From students practicing to others discussing the big questions, the Music Department engages students to independently learn and create magic. The Music Department also treat their ensembles as if they were professional musicians, always making sure they understand the unwritten requirements within the entertainment industry.

Having said that, the final week of Term 3 proved to be more character building than we first thought. There were a number of students in the KHS Jazz Orchestra who had 5 gigs in 5 days, and they weren’t the older students, they were the younger ones. Let me take you back to the beginning.

On Saturday, 21st September, Miss Moroney and the Stage Band (The Stars of the Future Group), opened the run with a stellar performance of Jazz standards at the Gymea-Miranda Uniting Church Fete. Kirrawee have been regular performers at this fete for the last 5 years and we were very excited to bring two groups. Stage Band performed from 9.30am to a very enthusiastic crowd. Dressed to impress with their new pale blue ties, they entertained the audience with many jazz standards, featuring solos from most of the students, including Brianna Sandilands’ auxiliary percussion solo.

At 11am, Mrs Lacey and Kaleidoscope took the stage to showcase their vocal skills. They presented everything from Sin Je (the African circle song) through to Trickle Trickle (A Manhattan Transfer Swinger). The fete goers also got to hear about the students musical theatre exploits, witnessing solos by Tess Murray-Prior (Alumni 2019), Max Fernandaz (Year 7) and the Year 10 triple play of Alana Roach, Alyssa Bishara and Lilly Berkley.  Gig one down, only 4 more to go.

Sunday, 22nd September is usually a double play for Jazz Orchestra (in the past they would have had the Cronulla Spring Fair on this day, but this year, that was reserved for the first day of spring).  Mrs Lacey, Miss Moroney and the KHSJO gathered at Sylvania Bowling Club to present an afternoon of Jazz on the Green. Whilst this event is usually met with excitement, his one was to be a bitter sweet affair. Andrew and Narelle Jones began Jazz on the Green 8 years ago at Sylvania Bowling Club. For the first few years, Jazz Orchestra was the only headliner but over the last two years, we have brought 2 groups. This was to be the last JOTG that the Jones’ would organise. I am glad to say it is not the last one ever. They are planning on passing over the torch. This year was their last because their son, Blake Jones, is in year 12 and this would be his last JOTG.

It was a fantastic event with many people braving the possibility of rain to be entertained by not one but two groups. Stage Band were invited to perform the middle set for 2019 and perform they did. Fresh from their gig the day before, they had a wonderful time sharing their solo skills and enthusiasm with the crowd that had gathered.  The highlight for us was definately the presentation made to the Jones’ on behalf of the KHSJO. It was so wonderful to have the opportunity to thank the Jones’ for all the hard work that they have put in over the years. Another highlight was the presentation of a restored violin from Charlie, a regular at Jazz On the Green. Miss Moroney (String Orchestra Director) was so impressed with the donation of a very old violin which Charlie had personally restored. It was a wonderful moment, only trumped by his win of the Morrison Concert Tickets in the raffle.

As is always the case with this event, the Jazz Orchestra concluded with a real show stopper, celebrating the graduating class of 2019, embracing the Stars of the Future and combining to perform a song together: “Hit the Bricks”. Of course, just as Mrs Lacey was signing off, the members of the Jazz Orchestra had a different idea. They decided an encore was necessary so just as she was signing off they launched into The Supremes Medley which caused many of the audience to hop out of their seats and join them on the dance floor as they were packing up their picnics and wins from the raffle. Gig 2 down, only 3 left.

So the trailer is returned and the staff gear up for 3 days of a logistical nightmare. Monday morning saw the transformation of the hall. Three events in three days. Thanks must go to Peter Reeve for his incredible organisation, patience and ability to function on very little sleep. Miss Moroney, Mrs Lacey and Mrs Fawer assist in setting up the hall for the next event.

Monday night saw the Stage Band return for Gig 3, Leadership Induction Night. This night is always such a heart-warming celebration of achievement. Stage Band entertained the audience as they gathered with anticipation for the official proceedings. “Hit the Bricks” returned as a feature piece before the leaders took the stage in this star studded night. As Music Coordinator, I had the opportunity to welcome the 16 members of the Premier Ensemble Leadership team – students ranging from years 9 – 11, 2019. To say that the staff were excited about the vision of this team is an understatement. Such a bubbly, creative and engaged group of students, with a plan to propel the Premier Ensembles into the stratosphere. The highlight for me was the speech given by Mark Mitchell. What a passionate and powerful presentation, full of empowerment and positive energy.







So, with this event finished for the night, it was time for the team to prepare the hall for the Morrison Concert – the annual showcase of extraordinary talent. This marked the 27th Year of the concert and James brought with him some amazing musicians. Gordon Rytmeister, Phil Stack, Carl Dewhurst and vocalist Adelina Martinez graced the stage for a night filled with celebration and great music.

As is the custom, Jazz Orchestra performed the first half with our guests taking the stage for the second half. During the day, there were many challenges for the students of the Jazz Orchestra to over come – it was the Year 12 trip to Jamberoo and some Year 11 students had exams. This meant that they missed out on the workshop with James and Adelina but that did not deter them. The Year 12 got back in time for sound check as did the Year 11. Despite having experienced a big day, everyone was ready for the night ahead.

During the day, James workshopped with the Stage Band and left over members of the Jazz Orchestra whilst Adelina took the vocalists through their paces with improvisation and melodic development. It was so wonderful to see the students have the opportunity to work with professional musicians of this calibre.

Whilst this was happening, our Music Support Group Parent Committee (all parents of students involved in the Jazz Orchestra) were in the hall with Mr Reeve, making magic happen by setting up the canteen, organising the seating and the raffle. The Music Support Group Committee are a sub committee of the P and C and involve parents from the students in the Jazz Orchestra. This group of amazing parents, help us out with transporting the trailer, and preparing canteens for various events throughout the year. This year, one of their projects was to give back. Premier Seating was organised at this year’s concert to help the Australian Children’s Music Foundation. Sarah Davis was the driving force behind this connection, enabling the Music Department to donate $1000 to this great cause.  Erica Roach was instrumental in getting the support from Gymea Tradies and of course the connection with the Michael Tynan Memorial Challenge.

Morrison Concert concludes for 2019 and we don’t stop there. Mr Reeve, Miss Moroney, Mrs Lacey and the students then flipped the room for Graduation the next day. The stage had to be cleared (except the piano which was being moved at 7.30am the next morning), the band set for the performances had to be put into place, Mr Reeve and his team had to pull down most of the sound and of course, this had to happen after the concert. What an amazing team!!!

Graduation the next day was a glorious day with many celebrations. Year 12 were showcased in a range of performances that happened before the official ceremony. The audience and the graduating class of 2019 were entertained by a number of their fellow graduates including, Lunatics on the Grass, Year 12 Music 2 Class, Patricia Turner, Michael Crisafulli, Tess Murray-Prior, Blake Jones, Paris Barnard, Genevieve Tyrrell, Lauren Roach, Kieran Knapman, and Jake Hummerston.

Whilst it was an incredibly exhausting 5 days, it was so rewarding to see such an array of talent on show from both the Premier Ensembles and the Stars of the Future. At Kirrawee HS, the music department is blessed to have the most dedicated and enthusiastic group of students guided by an incredibly talented team of teachers who are willing to give up their own time to allow the students to shine, and grow as musicians. With such passion and enthusiasm coming from staff and students alike, it is not surprising that this music department are leaders within their community.