Stephen Park is in the swing of jazz

Stephen+Park+playing+his+guitar

Photo by Stephen Park

Stephen Park playing his guitar

Jessi Schlewitt, R3 Editor-In-Chief

WHS senior and guitarist Stephen Park will join the nation’s finest high school musicians for one shared passion: jazz. The Jazz Band of America is comprised of fewer than 20 high schoolers from across the country, making the group highly selective.

The JBOA consists mostly of brass and woodwind instruments (trumpets, trombones and saxophones), leaving few spots for other instruments such as guitar. Consequently, admittance is more difficult for these musicians, making Park’s acceptance as the sole guitarist more challenging to accomplish.

To be accepted into the group, applicants must submit recorded auditions, while following guidelines that vary for each instrument. Requirements for guitarists entail performing a variety of suggested pieces to showcase their jazz techniques, ranging from swing style to improvisation.

Alongside their recordings, applicants must submit a letter of reference from their band director as well as a brief resume. According to Park, these “are not major factors in the [judges’] decision,” as he believes the recordings are more indicative of the applicants’ musical abilities.

Now a member of the band, Park will prepare to meet with the group in March, where their rehearsals will culminate in a final performance at the Music For All National Festival in Indiana.

“[We] will fly out to Indianapolis, rehearse for a few days and then perform at the festival,” said Park. “[During the rehearsals], we also have guest artists work with us… [including] drummer Roy McCurdy.”

With the accomplishment of admittance as the band’s only guitarist and an impactful experience to come in March, Park will continue sharpening his jazz skills until the group meets, especially with college auditions also on the horizon. But ultimately, all of his dedication boils down to one factor: an unparalleled passion for the creative art of jazz.