The Berkeley High School Jazz Ensemble has earned international recognition over the past few summers touring European music festivals.
The band was named best high school jazz band in the country at the Monterey Jazz Festival earlier this month. Rafa Postel, who plays the trumpet, and Soren Godberson, who plays guitar, also picked up best soloist awards at the festival.
The band is gearing up for a fund-raiser brunch on April 27 at H’s Lordships on the Berkeley Marina from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Proceeds will help with the band’s expenses to travel to scheduled appearances at jazz festivals in Vienne, France and Montreux, Switzerland, this summer.
Representatives from the Vienne Jazz Festival invited the band after hearing its performance in Monterey on April 5. The band is returning to Montreux for the third year. The band’s relationship with the Switzerland festival began five years ago when Bill Lutt, a former Berkeley High student and current president of World Projects International, a musician travel agency, suggested that the band submit an audition tape.
While at these international jazz festivals, the Berkeley High jazz musicians will rub elbows with some of the biggest names in jazz and hear some of the greats perform live.
The ensemble’s Parent Support Group handles much of the organizing and planning. Many of the parents praised band director Charles Hamilton, leader of the program for 21 years, for the ensemble’s continued success.
Larry Kelp, a band parent, said Hamilton’s choice of repertoire was a large factor in the recognition at various competitions.
“He lets the students excel as individuals instead of telling them what to do,” Kelp said.
For details, contact Lori Ferguson at (510) 527-8245.