Band reaches new heights with big win

By Gary Hamilton-Irvine

After teaching jazz for more than 30 years, Paul Sanders believes the Western Heights High School big band could be the best school group he has ever worked with.

The school's big band has won awards this year, including the Manawatu International Jazz and Blues Festival best school band award, which they received last week.

"This would be as good if not better than any school band I have ever had," Mr Sanders said.

The 13-person band battled against 17 other schools at the Manawatu festival to win. "We won by a long way down there," Mr Sanders said.

"They are all good players and it is unusual in a school band to have so many good players, they also have a lot of fun and enjoy it."

He said they had a tremendous music department at Western Heights High School which helped produce the talent, headed up by music teacher Adam Hague.

The big band is made up of four saxophone players, two trumpet players, two trombone players, a drummer, pianist, guitarist, bass guitarist and a singer.

Band member Forrest Thorp, 17, who won best individual trumpeter at the festival, said the school had a strong music department.

"When I arrived at school a lot of us just played the guitar but we got told to choose another instrument out of trumpet, trombone, tuba and sax," he said. "That led us into the concert band and the big band."

Thorp is in his last year at high school and said a number of the band members were considering studying music at university in the future.

The band's next big performance will be at Rhapsody Rotorua in early July, which attracts bands from schools in Australia.

Members of well-known Rockquest bands Aftershock and Strangely Arousing feature in the big band.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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