The strings section performs Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir” under the direction of Jonathan Parker of Kinnick High School. Photo by Dave Ornauer
The strings section performs Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir” under the direction of Jonathan Parker of Kinnick High School. Photo by Dave Ornauer

High schoolers jam at Far East band fest

by Dave Ornauer
Stars and Stripes

YONGSAN GARRISON – Musicians from high schools around the Pacific showed their stuff for five days in late April during the DODEA Pacific Far East honors band festival at Seoul American High School.

According to the event’s organizer, music instructor Jenny Gaume of Yokota High School in Japan, 150 students – voice, brass, strings and woodwind musicians – from 13 DODEA Pacific schools in mainland Japan, Okinawa, Guam and Korea were selected to attend the festival.
That’s out of 300 musicians who auditioned for one of the spots in the last DODEA Pacific activity to be staged at Seoul American, which will shut its doors for good June 3.

Under the tutelage of music instructors from DODEA high and middle schools, the students were broken into groups for rehearsals in their various disciplines over four days.

Among the 150 student attendees, four - L.J. Hollingsworth and Shayne Enokawa of Kadena and Jackie Puskas and Ryan Oh of Humphreys - have attended the festival all four of their high school years. But they insist none of the four years were like the others.
“You’re working with different people of different skill and experience levels, and the instructors are not always the same,” Puskas said. “You always learn something new. Everybody brings something different to the table.”

Puskas and Hollingsworth were also selected for the Far East modern music and jazz festival at Kadena. Having the events in different locations also enriches the students in other ways, Oh said.

“They’re not always in the same place; culturally, it’s a different experience,” Oh said.

This year’s festival culminated with the grand finale concert April 26 at the Seoul American auditorium.

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