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This year 78 students from Donvale travelled to South Australia to join 8000 other students from across Australia for the Generations in Jazz Festival in Mt Gambier.

Each year the opening concert sets the scene for the weekend. With guest appearances from Kurt Elling, Liz Wright, James Morrison, Ross Irwin, Ricky Woodard, Joey De Francesco and the students from the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz (Washington DC), our students knew they were in for something special.

Saturday morning started very early, with our Small Jazz combo warming up for their 8am performance. Great playing by Minnie, Isabel, McKenzie, Thomas, and Janien saw them placed 12th out of 21 ensembles. This was our first time entering this division so we are super proud of their efforts.

Next came the Junior Big Band, 11 of whom were making their first Generations appearance, and five of these newcomers only began playing their instruments last year as part of the IBP program. Conducted by Phillip Reichman, the Junior Big Band wowed the audience and judges with some exceptional playing, earning them an incredible 4th place out 21 ensembles. This is a remarkable result given how short a time some of their members have been learning.

There was more celebration when trumpeter Nathaniel was chosen to be part of the Division Four Super Band. Students who stand out on their instruments are selected to join what is called a ‘Super Band’. Nathaniel was one of just four chosen from 198 trumpeters in this division - congratulations!

Led and conducted by Melanie Searle, our Senior Vocal Ensemble was one of the larger groups performing at Generations. Dazzling solos from Emily, Tara and Hannah, with, of course, a choir of angels singing behind them earned 9th place out of 21.

So onward into Division Three, where the Senior Big Band blew the audience away with an outstanding program of section playing and individual solos. A highlight was a beautiful jazz ballad featuring Jonathan on alto saxophone. For Tahlia, Josh, Janien, Tom, and Minnie, this was their last Generations performance. We will miss their dedication, their servant hearts and, of course, their skilful playing.

There was no better way to finish Saturday than to listen to the exquisite blend of the Altonatives. It often takes a few years for group of this nature to perform and sing at the standard we heard, but despite long-time member Agnieshka being joined by five new members late last year, the Altonatives put together a polished and professional performance.

Thank you, Agnieshka, for your leadership over the past several years and in helping such a newly-formed group blend.

Thank you to our leadership who release us for this festival; to our ensemble directors; to the supervising staff for their generosity in time and effort to care for students on the trip; to our own Janine Power for her administrative genius and patience; and finally, thank you to all the students who worked so hard before and during the weekend.

Congratulations and well done on a successful performance and festival.