Success for the St. George’s Jazz Bands at the Surrey Jazz Festival


Alex Shojania

The senior jazz band, Dr. Markel, and Mr. Murray poses for a group photo.

On Friday February 16th, 2018, the Junior and Senior jazz bands travelled to Surrey early in the morning to participate in the 36th annual Surrey Jazz Festival. The Surrey Jazz Festival is one of Canada’s largest and most unique jazz festivals, and “combines two days of jazz performances by 2,000 secondary school jazz musicians with two nights of superb jazz performances for the public”(Surrey Schools Jazz Festival website). The St. George’s Jazz Bands has had many successes over the previous years at this festival, and this year the bands were looking for more achievements and awards in Surrey.


The students enrolled in the music program at St. George’s typically play in either the Junior, Intermediate, or Senior Concert Band. However, they also have the option to join the Junior or Senior Jazz Band, ensembles with classic jazz instrumentation (high brass, low brass, saxophones, string bass, drums, piano). This enriching musical activity at St. George’s is a full course and provides students with the opportunity to explore their interests in jazz and also to compete in major regional competitions such as the Surrey Jazz Festival, the Kiwanis Festival, and the Kelowna Jazz Festival.


Congratulations to Henry Chan (grade 10) and Edward Han (grade 10) from the Junior Jazz Band on their outstanding performances at the festival! Henry earned the Best Junior Jazz Band Trumpet Player and Edward was awarded the Best Junior Jazz Band Saxophone Player of the 2018 Surrey Jazz Festival. Although there were no rankings of the bands or a system of awarding points to bands, both the Junior and Senior jazz bands received a rating of ‘Excellent’ for every category of their performances (band unity, intonation, style, repertoire selection, technique) and received excellent marks for their performances.

Surrey Schools
The Surrey Jazz Festival awards for the Junior Jazz Band.

Aaron Yuan, grade 10, and a tenor saxophone player for the Junior Jazz Band, expresses that “the opportunity to play jazz further enriches the concert band experience” as it exposes students to “different styles and genres of music”, which was “very eye-opening for me.” Now in his second year in Junior Jazz, Aaron considers the competitive experience “extremely valuable” because it “allows students to both perform in a competitive atmosphere and work with experienced professionals to improve our technique and style.”

The members of both jazz bands, over the past semester, has worked very hard to accomplish great feats at competitions–rehearsing at 7 in the morning every Tuesday and Friday. Both Dr. Dean Markel (junior jazz band instructor) and Mr. Rob Murray (senior jazz band instructor) planned thoroughly for the competition and played a huge role in the improvement of both bands as they have over the years. This was another great first semester for the jazz program at St. George’s, and the musicians are prepared to go the distance for more achievements at department concerts and regional competitions for the rest of the school year!