Jackson Memorial bands win awards at international music festival


JACKSON – The Jackson Memorial High School symphonic and marching bands won six awards at the Virginia International Music Festival, including the Grand Champion of NATO
Parade of Nations, which honors the best band overall.

During spring break, the bands traveled to Norfolk, Va., to perform at the festival, which hosts international, military and musical events. Middle schools and high schools from all over the country performed and can participate in a variety of activities, according to a press release.

On April 26, the symphonic band performed at Chrysler Hall for a panel of judges, with a workshop immediately afterward right on stage to further enhance the students’
performance skills. The students’ performance earned them a second place award, according to the press release.

The 66th annual Norfolk NATO Parade of Nations took place on April 27. It is the only parade honoring NATO in the United States. All 29 NATO countries are represented with floats. A total of 21 high school marching bands and international military bands, as well as military drill teams and dignitaries, marched in the parade.

This was a competitive parade with judges grading the band’s performance in many areas. The Jackson Memorial marching band was awarded Best Percussion, Best Music, Best Drum Majors, First Place High School Marching Band and Grand Champion of NATO Parade of Nations, according to the press release.

Julia Graff, drum major, reflected on her experience, saying, “This being my senior year, Norfolk was an amazing opportunity to spend a bit more time with my band family and end my journey as a Jaguar band member with a bang. I couldn’t be more thankful for or proud of all the amazing people involved in this organization.”

During their trip, the band members visited Busch Gardens and the Nauticus Museum which featured the USS Wisconsin. The trip culminated with a stop in Washington, D.C., to tour the Smithsonian museums and the war memorials.

A highlight of the trip was attending the Virginia International Tattoo – Salute to Women in the Military. This all-military show included ceremonial performances from military bands from the United States, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Australia, Jordan, Romania and many more, according to the press release.

The Jackson Memorial music program is under the direction of Jason Diaz and Eric Ficarra.

Ficarra, the assistant band director/percussion director, summed it up by saying, “Our trip to Norfolk encompassed so many musical adventures for the students, which made our
weekend getaway a very fulfilling experience for all. Our accolades earned, surprising
yet enthusiastically welcomed, truly exemplify the multi-faceted musicians we have here
at JMHS. Needless to say, we had a great time!”