Jazz Ensembles, Soloists Earn State Recognition

vhs_jazzFour West Des Moines Community Schools ensembles earned awards at state jazz competitions in March and April. The Valley High School Jazz Orchestra won first place in the 4A division at the Iowa Jazz Championships on Tuesday, April 5, at the Des Moines Civic Center. Valley’s Jazz Orchestra has earned the honor of being best in state for four consecutive years.

Valley senior Bridget Shoemaker also earned one of four 4A Outstanding Soloist Awards in recognition of her performance on bass.

The three Valley jazz choirs hosted the Best of Iowa Vocal Jazz Championships at Valley High School on Tuesday, March 29. Ten students earned outstanding musicianship awards: seniors Matthew Hrdlicka, Izzy Koeppel, Derek Lutt, Nicole Miller and Gloria Tanui; juniors Sammy Kobberdahl and Piper Wood; and sophomores Ellen Erickson, Grace Howard and Kate Raridon. Sophomore Matt Lowe and seniors Caroline Stump and Gloria Tanui were also accepted to the Iowa All-State Jazz Choir after two rounds of auditions. The Vocalese Jazz Choir earned second place in the competition. The Vox and Vocal Point jazz choirs earned fifth and sixth place, respectively.

Students in the West Des Moines Community Schools can participate in choir and band starting in elementary school. The Valley High School band program has distinguished itself at numerous local, regional and national events. Students may participate in any number of individual and small group music opportunities, including the IHSMA All-State Band, SCIBA Honor Band, Drake Honor Band, Perry Band Olympics and the IHSMA Solo and Ensemble Festival. The Valley High School bands are directed by Josh Waymire, Greg Simmons and Dave Kobberdahl.

The Valley High School choirs are directed by Ryan Deignan and Haley Gibbons, and the Valley Southwoods Freshman High School choirs are directed by Heather Nail. The vocal music department offers a wide range of experiences for students interested in vocal music. In addition to local concerts, the choirs also attend state and regional festivals and contests, and have opportunities to perform nationally and internationally.