Ventura jazz band ends program’s run on a high note

    Drum roll please…..
    After nearly nine months of work, Ventura High School’s Jazz Band I took the stage in the Des Moines Civic Center Auditorium at the largest high school jazz competition in the county.   Ventura has qualified for the Iowa Jazz Championships an amazing 15 times, but this year was something special.  After all, this would be the last time the group would represent Ventura High School.

    All of the hard work paid off, as the group finished their year as the first runner-up band in the state.  In addition, Kevin Boehnke was awarded the Class 1A most outstanding performance of the day award for his solo work on guitar, which included a $150 scholarship to a Jazz Camp of his choice.
    Getting to the Iowa Jazz Championships is not easy.
    The IJC committee invites the top 15 bands in the state to compete in Des Moines.  To qualify, jazz bands must place first or second in their district competition, or place first at several of the independent competitions throughout the state.  In December, Ventura placed first in the North Central district.
    “We were really excited to come out as the champions that day,” said Director Nate Benzing.
    Once you make it to the championships the process becomes really intense. A panel of three judges brought in from around the country listen to all 15 bands in the class to decide a ranking, as well as select the top two from the class to perform again later in the evening in front of a panel of five judges.
    Ventura’s band performed four selections for judges, ranging from Latin to swing to funk.
    “We had a good variety of music, featured a lot of different individuals on extended solos, and the band played it all extremely well.  One of the judges commented on the great energy of the band,” commented Director Nate Benzing.
    “We knew we played a strong show for the judges in the afternoon.  When they started announcing the placings of the bands and Ventura still had not been announced, we really started to get excited,” said senior Sebelia Markle. 
    “The next thing we know they are announcing the fifth place band, then the fourth place band, and we are looking back across the auditorium at Mr. Benzing and he is looking back at us trying not to freak out. Then they announced the third band and that’s when we knew we had just made the finals and would get to play again for the 2012 championship,” said senior Kaitlyn Chizek.
    In the end, North Mahaska’s jazz band won the title, but Ventura proudly accepted the runner-up honors.
    “We have been fortunate enough to compete at the championships 15 times.  Knowing this was our last chance to be here in Des Moines, playing as well as we did was a fantastic way- Read More Via e-Edition

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