Students wows 'em during Far East jazz and modern music festival

The jazz choir performs during Thursday's grand-finale concert at Kubasaki High School as part of during the DODDS Pacific Far East Jazz and Modern Music Festival.


By DAVE ORNAUER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: November 19, 2015

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Jonas Jimenez was getting ready for the Far East cross-country meet earlier this month, as was his Kubasaki senior classmate Destiny Shiroma. Rylan Santos of Kadena had his hands full gearing up for Far East tennis, as was Kubasaki’s Eric Heck; Santos’ classmate Molly McCoy was busy preparing for Far East cheerleading.

Between that plus schoolwork — preparing for SATs and ACTs and filling out college applications — they had something else on their plate the third week of November – Far East jazz and modern music festival.

“And I have to finish college apps tomorrow,” Jimenez said Thursday following the wrap-up concert at Kubasaki. It featured performances by the Far East garage band, jazz choir and jazz band before some 300 spectators at the school’s auditorium and worldwide Internet audience on High School Cube.

“We find time to do it and have a great time doing it,” Shiroma said.

“Music is a very important part of our lives,” Jimenez said. “It helps create the balance in our lives.”

Thursday’s show served as the finale for the music festival, sponsored by Department of Defense Education Activity-Pacific, which ran from Monday through Thursday. In all, 51 students from 11 schools played alongside each other, most for the first time.

The show led with an encore performance by the garage band, which first performed together before an audience on a warm, sultry Wednesday evening. That show, as well as Thursday’s, was headlined by the six-member garage band’s lead singer and Robert D. Edgren senior AngelaMae Paraino, better known as the runner-up in this year’s “Entertainer of the Year” category in the Air Force’s Operation Talent Search.

Wednesday’s performance featured songs by Maroon 5 and Journey, even an original composition written in just three days by the six band members. Before Monday, only two of them, Yokota senior bassist Keghan Delancenserie and freshman vocalist Rachel McMasters, even knew each other.

“We did our best. It presented a lot of challenges, it had its ups and downs, but we faced them. I think that’s what made it sound so good, teamwork,” Paraino said of penning the original number called “Telling You.”

She plans to major in performing arts and has her eye on Berkeley College of Music in Boston, or on an ROTC scholarship.

Others comprising the garage band were senior percussionist Matthew Urbano of Kadena, Guam High senior lead guitarist Jaeden Franco and senior keyboardist Sara Mason of South Korea’s Osan American School.

Thursday’s jazz choir show produced a pair of a cappella renditions, one of The Real Group’s song “Bumble Bee” and the Beatles’ “I Will,” with instructors from the different schools taking turns directing each number.

That portion of the show ended with a song-and-dance number, “Sway,” the closing song from the movie “Shall We Dance?” featuring Richard Gere and Jennifer Lopez.

That was followed by the jazz band concert, which featured numbers by Herbie Hancock, Count Basie and Chick Corea and arrangements by Michael Sweeney. The show ended with a rousing version of “Sweet Home Chicago,” by Robert Johnson.


AngelaMae Paraino, a Robert D. Edgren High School senior, performs with the garage band during the Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2015, performance of DODDS Pacific Far East Jazz and Modern Music Festival at Okinawa's American Village.

from around the web