Attendees enjoyed astounding musical performances Saturday when 51 youth jazz bands, combos and choirs representing 24 Northern California high schools and middle schools descended on the campus in Pleasanton for the ,
The festival is named in honor of Mr. Jim Campana, the former, long-standing musical director at Amador who helped bring the school’s program to prominence during his 20 years with the school.
Coordinated by Amador parents, Marilyn Palowitch and Lori Ratto, in conjunction with the music department staff of Amador and dozens of volunteers, the event featured competition performances, musical “adjudication” for each band from professional musicians, and a series of free music workshops also taught by professional musicians.
Bands participating included those from both Amador and as well as , and Middle Schools.
Special honors for local schools included a third-place award in the overall middle school division, for Harvest Park Middle School's jazz band, led by music director Paul Perazzo. Also honored with first-place wins in the High School ‘A’ and ‘B’ divisions, were Valley Christian High’s Jazz 'A' and 'B' bands, directed by David Gregoric.
Foothill High School's 'A’ band, under the direction of Josh Butterfield, took second-place honors.
In the instrumental section awards, trumpet section received top honors for the ‘B’ division. Schools from the Tri-Valley took home all three awards In the High School ‘A’ band division section, with Monte Vista (Danville) High School’s rhythm section winning first, rhythm section earning second place, and the saxophone section at Monte Vista earning third place.
In the jazz ‘Combo’ division, made up of instrumental ensembles with less than 10 musicians each, earned first place.
Twenty eight students received individual scholarships from nine regional music camps and schools, totaling $13,280 in awards.
Among the noteworthy award winners was Harvest Park Middle School tenor saxophonist, Brandon Zhang, who took home a $500 scholarship from the Stanford Jazz Workshop. Neel Kale of Pleasanton Middle School won a $100 scholarship to the Tri-Valley Summer Music Camp.
Other scholarships went to tenor saxophonist Kim Stephenson, along with Andrew Schultz and Keith Love, also of Foothill. Bria Alexander, Ryan McCray, Brandon Mausler, Dimitri Morris and Johanne Ramirez of Valley Christian won scholarships in addition to Sam Kless, Kyle Valdick and Justin Castillo of Dublin High.
When thanking the crew of volunteers who helped make this year’s festival possible, Campana co-chair, Marilyn Palowitch said this year’s festival was the tenth that the Palowitch family has been involved with, either as parents or as volunteers.
“This is the first year we don’t have a student participating,” Palowitch said during the awards ceremony. “And we’re still involved!”
Her son, Chris, however, had a good reason for not attending. This week the Amador junior and bass trombonist was part of an elite group of youth musicians from across the country selected to perform and train with the .
Palowitch’s husband, Carl, said in a phone conversation today that, “We get ribbed about this all the time. ‘You put on this whole festival for your kid, and he’s not even here,’ people joke."
“But Chris is actually on a plane right now on his way home from L.A.,” he said.
Other schools receiving top honors included several of the acclaimed youth jazz bands from Folsom schools.
As the Campana Jazz Festival continues in Pleasanton, the Palowitches, along with co-chair Lori Ratto, hope to continue the tradition of music appreciation in the Tri-Valley area and beyond.