Six schools share one stage in the name of jazz

William Penn Charter School hosted a Jazz Festival at the Kurtz Center for the Performing Arts on Friday for a night of smooth beats and soothing rhythms.

Aside from performances by Penn Charter’s Middle and Upper School jazz bands, Germantown Academy, Wilmington Friends School, Episcopal Academy and Abington Friends School also shared the stage, each performing three songs.

Jeff Torchon, 2006 Penn Charter alumnus, came to show off the progress he’s made since he first started zipping his fingers down the piano back when he was a student at Penn Charter.

“It takes your mind off life when you just start playing and get a beat, get a rhythm,” says seventh grader Robbie Zisselman.

He’s played the clarinet for two years, and appreciates the camaraderie the band builds among musicians in Penn Charter’s Middle School Jazz Band. “I think I’m progressing, and our sound is awesome. It’s a great beat,” he says.

“They’re learning the basics now, and go beyond the fundamentals when they reach the Upper School,” says Bob Wilson, who instructs the middle school jazz band. “They weren’t comfortable with solo-ing at first. It’s fun to see 6th or 7th graders up there and just wail.”

Sophomore Nick Hanson has been beating drums in the Upper School’s jazz band since his freshman year.

“I love the community we all share,” he says. “You appreciate music a lot more when you play an instrument.”

The 200-person audience embraced the solos, roaring in cheers after individual jams and again after each band’s performance.  The next big show at Penn Charter will be the Small Ensemble Spring Concert at 7 p.m. on Apr. 14. 

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