Big Band Shines at MAJE Hatch Shell Showcase


BLS Big Band plays at the Hatch Memorial Shell. (Source: Val Snekvik)

Following Boston Latin School Big Band’s victory at State Finals last April, the ensemble performed alongside other prestigious high school bands at the Massachusetts Association for Jazz Education (MAJE) Gold Medal Showcase. Located at the Charles River Esplanade’s Hatch Shell, this event featured bands from various Massachusetts schools, all of which brought home gold medals from their respective championships. 

The concert comprised three major tunes: “Route 228,” “Sister Sadie” and company favorite “Wind Machine” by Count Basie. The last is a challenging, fast-paced song which was rehearsed under the supervision of Bijoin Watson, a professional trumpet player. He joined the band onstage at the Hatch Shell, giving the students an opportunity to perform live with a professional musician. The song had a major saxophone feature, from tenor saxophone player Thomas Poimenidis (I), who “totally killed it,” according to BLS Big Band director Paul Pitts. “Route 228” was filled with claps and random ad libs from the band, along with a sousaphone feature from Benjamin Zaborski (I).

Attendance was high, and the band was met with overwhelming support from BLS students, families and other onlookers. One of the most remarkable aspects of the performance was the location. Anyone walking along the Charles River or in the general vicinity of the stage could stop and listen. Since the band typically plays at “jazz specific concerts or competitions, […] it was really cool that anyone passing by could come see,” adds Poimendis. Pitts says that it was “great to have everyone out there,” and he only regrets “not taking enough pictures.” 

Sasha Bornhorst (II), who attended the festival, remarks, “This was not something I’ve attended before or [normally] would have attended, but I just heard about my friend performing there the week before and had a free afternoon.” Regardless of the prestigious nature of the showcase, Big Band approached it with the excitement and confidence necessary for their success. Bornhorst says, “It was good music! I was dancing along with it, and I just think being there with friends helped me get out of my comfort zone. […] It was a lot of fun.”

Considering that this year was the band’s last opportunity for a major in-person performance (they also played on BLS’s front steps on June 6, however), the show at the Hatch Shell served as a bittersweet end to the careers of many players in Big Band. Steve Snekvik (I), a trombone player in the band, expresses that what he’ll miss the most are the “spontaneous parts. After rehearsal, usually just jamming for like 15 minutes to a whole hour. […] That’s what makes [him]  love music and jazz so much. It’s fun.” 

Music brings people together, and in the case of the BLS Big Band, shared passion has created a wonderful community for these young musicians.