French jazz band plays for the community during their visit to the US

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French jazz band plays for the community during their visit to the US

The junior percussion group performs the first piece of the night directed by Yohann Fievet.

The junior percussion group performs the first piece of the night directed by Yohann Fievet.

PHOTO SUBMITTED BY Alexis Megdanoff

The junior percussion group performs the first piece of the night directed by Yohann Fievet.

PHOTO SUBMITTED BY Alexis Megdanoff

PHOTO SUBMITTED BY Alexis Megdanoff

The junior percussion group performs the first piece of the night directed by Yohann Fievet.

Alexis Megdanoff, Online Editor

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As she holds the French flag in front of the school doors, junior Jessica Maher prepares to greet the members of the Limonest Jazz Band visiting all the way from their hometown in France. They were able to make the trip with the help of the Flint Institute of Music whose members provided host families for the musicians to stay with for their week in the United States.

“The idea of meeting French band people was unreal to me,” Maher said. “After taking French and band classes since 5th grade, I thought the only chances I would get to experience the French people and their culture would be after high school. This opportunity was an amazing one.”

The band played at several concerts throughout their week long stay, but came for a special visit to FHS on Tuesday to practice with the Fenton Jazz Band in order to perform at a concert together later that night.

“I was really excited because I didn’t get to play with them the last time they were here [two years ago].” senior Michael Chopp said. “I was surprised at how nice they were, they very friendly even though they barely spoke English.”

After arriving, the French were given a tour of the school as well as treated to performances by the Winterline and Ambassadors. Throughout the day, they practiced in the Ruby F. Zima auditorium giving members of Fenton’s Jazz Band a chance to observe.

“Their music was well-orchestrated,” Maher said. “They were in tune with each other and weren’t scattered all over the place. It was more of a smooth jazz. We’re more like a big band that is just for show.”

At the end of the school day, more socializing went on between the French and Fenton band students. Fenton’s Jazz Band was responsible for providing dinner before the concert and keeping them entertained until then.

“Josh Tobias, Andrew Tesner, Antonio Caballero, James Kryza, a few others, and I brought our French kids to Andrew’s house,” Chopp said. “He has a bunch of music equipment so we all jammed out and just had fun. It was cool to be able to interact with people who don’t speak English by making music.”

Once everyone came back to the school, the concert began with the performance of the junior percussion group that is part of the Limonest band. Throughout the night, the French band director Arnaud Caumeil brought up members of the band and asked them questions about their experiences in the US so far.

“Everyone has been very welcoming,” nine-year-old percussionist Marie-Lou said. “I will always remember the music I have heard tonight [at the concert].”

The percussion group was followed with performances by Fenton’s Symphonic and Wind Ensemble Percussion. It was then that the audience heard the French Jazz Band play.

Following the final note of the French, Fenton’s Jazz Band took the stage to end the night. However before the final song, Caumeil stood before the audience one last time to announce Fenton’s Jazz Band was formally invited to visit the Limonest Band in France during June 2016.

“I was really surprised and super excited,” Maher said. “When I got into Jazz Band I asked Perkins about it [going to France] and he said it wasn’t a sure thing we would go. It was solely dependent on what the French thought of us at the time. When their band director told us on stage, I could barely contain my excitement. All I wanted to do was jump up and down but then we were forced to play another song.”

The last time Fenton’s Jazz Band went to France was four years ago. Nothing about the upcoming trip has been decided yet, although many have expressed their excitement over the opportunity.

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