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MSHSL Region 2AA Jazz Festival is from 3 to 9:30 p.m. Monday at WHS

The Worthington High School Jazz Band performed at the University of Minnesota Duluth's Head of the Lakes jazz festival on March 22-23 in Duluth -- the group is pictured at Glensheen Mansion -- and will compete Monday at the Region 2AA jazz festival at WHS. (Special to The Globe)

WORTHINGTON — It’s a drill Worthington Trojan high schoolers involved in almost any activity —athletics, music, FCCLA, speech, BPA, FFA, you name it — know all too well.

To arrive at a centrally located competition, tournament, conference or festival, local ninth- through 12th-graders either leave classes early or arise at the crack of dawn, board buses and ride for two hours or more to participate.

That’s why director Jon Loy and the 29 members of the WHS jazz band are excited to stay put and host, for a second consecutive year, the Minnesota State High School League Region 2AA Jazz Band Festival on their home turf.

The MSHSL-sponsored festival takes place from 3 to 9:30 p.m. Monday at Worthington High School.

“We have to travel so far for most Region 2AA activities, so we like that these ‘Cities schools’ are traveling here for a change,” said Loy.

“This is our second year of hosting the Region 2AA Jazz Festival — it will be at Waconia next year — and it will be another 13 years before it happens here again.”

With several dozen volunteers and ample support from District 518 administration and colleagues, the 2018 jazz festival ran smoothly, and Loy is delighted that musicians from 13 out of the region’s 16 schools will be in town on Monday. (The jazz bands from the three non-attending schools are unable to be present due to concert tours.)

“It’s a credit to our district that we are drawing even more bands than were here last year,” said Loy.

“Students and directors who attended enjoyed what we had to offer because, despite our limitations in facilities, we are rich in hospitality and heart.”

To accommodate the 450-plus young jazz musicians comprising 26 bands from the baker’s dozen of Region 2AA schools Monday evening, most larger spaces at WHS (band and choir rooms, main and auxiliary gymnasiums, media center, wrestling room, cafeteria and lobby) will bustle with people and instruments.

“And Midbell Music of Sioux City, Iowa, will have an instrument fair in the lobby so kids can try out instruments, register for musical prizes or get help with an emergency instrument repair,” said Loy.

A beef barbecue meal will be available for purchase in the cafeteria (the public is welcome to buy food there as well) from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m.

“This entire event is free and open to the public,” stressed Loy. “If you like jazz, this is an excellent place to hear it.”

Beginning at 3 p.m., the 26 jazz bands will perform at multiple sites within WHS, with the WHS jazz band’s 9:10 p.m. performance capping the night.

Participating schools include Hutchinson, Shakopee, Chaska, Delano, Buffalo, Dassel-Cokato, Waconia, Chanhassen, Waseca, Mankato East, Mankato West, New Ulm and Worthington.

“Each band is expected to play three tunes representing three different musical styles,” explained Loy. “Our set opens with a rock tune, transitions to a ballad with a vocal soloist that has more of a big band sound, and ends with a swing tune.

“There are so many different styles of jazz, and all different ability levels among the participating schools, so this is a great time to hear all kinds of performances.”

Having hosted the Region 2AA Jazz Festival last year, Loy knows it takes a bundle of time and cooperative energy to keep everything organized and on track for such an event.

“There are so many people responsible for making this festival work here,” said Loy, crediting the WHS Business Club, the ISD 518 tech department, WHS administrative, custodial and office staff, his ISD 518 music colleagues, WAMBO, and parent and student volunteers for their efforts.

“We got great feedback on how we ran it last year and that’s why we have even more bands signed on for this year,” he continued.

“It takes a lot of people working together to make Worthington look really good as we host these schools.”

And for the WHS students involved, it’s a bonus that the ride home from this particular Region 2AA event will be a whole lot shorter.

The MSHSL Region 2AA Jazz Festival takes place Monday from 3 to 9:30 p.m. at Worthington High School, 1211 Clary St. Jazz performances are free and open to the public; questions may be directed to 376-6121. Beef barbecue meals are available for purchase in the cafeteria from 4:30-7:30 p.m. The WHS jazz band performs at 9:10 p.m. All performances will be live-streamed on the Facebook pages of the Spirit of Worthington Marching Band and District 518.

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