Pella High Jazz Makes History


Hope Vos, Reporter

One of Pella High’s goals has always been to pursue excellence, which is what Jazz Band and Jazz Orchestra achieved in the Iowa Jazz Championships. With Jazz Band achieving first place along with Jazz Orchestra hitting 5th place, this is the first time a school has had two bands in the top five.  It is also the first time a JV jazz band has placed in the top 5 since 1978. 

Junior Cashen Thompson plays the trumpet in Jazz Orchestra.

No one expected us to qualify for the championship months prior, so again no one expected much from our Jazz Orchestra,” said Thompson. “As a group, I think we did a great job embracing the underdog mentality and really played our best.”

Support for Jazz Orchestra was high even while expectations were low, which just made their victory even sweeter. Junior Morgan Uitermarkt, a trombone player in the Jazz Band, was especially excited to place so well this year.

“It is so exciting that we won jazz champs,” said Uitermarkt. “It feels even more rewarding this year, as the event has been canceled the last two years, so it was awesome to be able to go.”

Covid hit all areas of entertainment hard the past few years, but even though everyone missed out on a few years of competition, Pella hit back harder. Dameon Place directed the Jazz Band, and Jeff Robilliard led the Jazz Orchestra. The bands practiced twice a week since December. 

“While we didn’t expect to place 1st at the Jazz Championships,” said senior Madeline White, a trombone player in the Jazz Band, “We had all worked incredibly hard to get there and we weren’t super surprised when we won.”

Both bands are passionate about music. Titles and awards are nice, but the passion behind the music is the true reward.

“I love playing jazz music, because you are able to show your personality through your playing, and you really have to connect with not only the music but also the people around you to make it work,” said Uitermarkt. “Once you do, it is so fun to be able to just groove with the music, and have a blast knowing that together you are creating some phenomenal music.”