Paschal High School’s Jazz Band has been invited to Switzerland’s Montreux Jazz Festival.
The festival, scheduled for July 2015, has hosted a plethora of performers including artists such as Ray Charles, Miles Davis and Aretha Franklin. During the band’s 10-day stay in Switzerland, they will also perform at the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris and at the Vienne Jazz Festival in southern France.
“It’s surreal to be invited to the Montreux Jazz Festival,” senior all-state tenor sax player Tom Nyul said. “We are just a bunch of kids that can play jazz, and I really hope to promote jazz music to as many people as possible and throw off the misconception that jazz music is just elevator music.”
Paschal’s Jazz Band is led by third year director Mark De Hertogh. Hoping to return to the tradition of quality work that was highlighted in the ‘60s and ‘70s, De Hertogh has worked to develop a strong work ethic and bring a new culture and approach to his jazz students, he said.
Now, the band’s hard work has paid off, and next summer they will be headed to the Montreux.
“It was a fun entry process, because there really isn’t a set way to enter the festival,” De Hertogh said. “You really have to be in touch with the right people. The festival has to see your quality of work and then come to you. The professional recording the band did was a huge help to the overall process.”
Last year, Paschal Band Boosters raised money for the band to have professional studio recordings done. Now, the band is raising money to help offset the cost of the trip. The overall cost per student is $3,500. Students are responsible for funding $1,000 of that amount themselves. The school is looking to raise $2,500 for the nineteen students and teachers who will accompany them on the trip, and the overall goal is about $60,000.
In regards to raising his portion of money for the trip to Europe, Nyul said it is mainly just mailing out donation sheets to people, and many of the band members will also be asking family members to donate during their Thanksgiving break.
The school is also making the Jazz Band available to play at events and parties. And the band will hold an eight-hour jazz-a-thon December 19 in the lobby of Paschal High.
De Hertogh said he wants the students to experience a professional jazz festival culture and be immersed in a culture different from their own in order to change their perspectives.
“European audiences perceive jazz music much differently than American audiences do,” he said. “This means a lot to me and has been on my mind a long time. I want my students to achieve more than I did and go as far as they possibly can.”
Listen to one of the band's songs: To hear other clips, visit https://soundcloud.com/paschal-jazz-ensemble.