John Rhodes Jazz Symposium

The High School Little theater was alive with syncopated rhythms on Friday night at the 44th annual John Rhodes Jazz symposium. Eight High School groups took to the stage for an evening of jazz. Groups represented students from Norwalk, Ridgefield, Darien, Stamford and Port Chester. The standard of the musicianship on stage provided an outstanding night of jazz. Music by Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Mingus, Cole Porter and Wilton’s very own Dave Brubeck were among the many jazz classics performed.

Each ensemble was given feedback by special guest clinician Arthur Lipner. Mr. Lipner, a professional musician and longtime Wilton resident encouraged the groups to watch their own performances and to pay attention to the rhythms of the music, “Put the horns down and clap the parts to focus on the rhythm, rhythm is a huge part of the music, feeling the pulse can bring the band together” he advised the students. He also encouraged students to have curiosity and adventure in the music that they chose to listen to in “There is a lot of music out there, the more you listen to the more you find you will enjoy."

Later in the evening Mr. Lipner introduced Chris Brubeck. Chris is the Grammy nominated composer and multi-instrumentalist son of the late Dave Brubeck. Mr. Brubeck joined Wilton High School’s Jazz 1 ensemble to play a trombone solo on the piece ‘Moody’ a song written by his father. Jake Arnowitz, WHS junior and saxophonist described the experience as ‘An enormous honor and pleasure to play with such a jazz legend, I have been inspired to listen and learn even more about jazz - I spent the whole weekend listening to Brubeck music.”

At the end of the evening the audience was treated to music played by the Berkshire Jazz Orchestra. The orchestra is made up of music professionals including WHS music teacher Nick Loafman on trumpet. Chris Brubeck played along with the group rounding off what was a truly memorable evening of music. 

Speaking after the event Mr Lipner had this to say “The amount of talent in Wilton and neighboring communities is astounding, you can hear all the hard work that the students put in to prepare their concert repertoire. Clearly, the band directors have the vision and means to inspire students to make such beautiful music. It is so exciting to see and hear so much talent in our community.”

Nick Loafman, band director was thrilled with the evening “The best parts of the evening were hearing all the other excellent student groups - the way they play, the results of the teaching and learning that's going on, and all the varied repertoire that was presented, AND having many members of our community come together in the Little Theater to celebrate jazz and the work of our students. The main stars were the students throughout the day, but Arthur Lipner, Chris Brubeck, and the Berkshire band all helped make the event special, and showed the students what they could aspire to.”

photographs showing student musicians playing at the jazz symposium