Last Friday, Blue and Gold Jazz Ensemble performed in the Fall Pops Concert. This was the ensemble’s first concert (in recent years) with US Band Director Randy Reid. Reid, an experienced musician and band director. Although he has been a member of the SPA faculty for four years, this was his first year in his new position leading the bands.
Overall, Reid’s impression of his debut performance with the Ensemble (at least since Reid was an interim band director back in 2015) was overall positive. “I thought the concert was great.” Reid said this may be in part to a recent change in the Ensemble’s structure. “the change we made over last summer to combine the two smaller ensembles was very helpful because it made everyone involved, in this larger group, feel more confident because everyone has more sound around them.”
While structural changes occurred in the SPA Band program, perhaps the more significant change last year was the transition of band leadership from the previous director Bill Mayson to Reid. Reid believes every teacher brings something different to the table. “Every different teacher brings with them their own experience from similar previous jobs at other schools. Each different teacher brings with them, their history of experience.” Reid also commented on the process of trial and error from which he (and other teachers) gain experience. “Every teacher comes to new jobs with a built-up list of worked well, previously, […] and things that didn’t work well they just let go,” said Reid.
Part of Reid’s inspiration for the choreography in the band’s final song came from a school he worked at two decades ago as a band teacher.
After Mason left the program in 2018, Reid applied for the job. Reflecting on why he wanted the position Reid says the community and atmosphere of SPA played a big part in his decision. “At the time, I had worked here for almost four years I had gotten to learn the program and other faculty got to know the students, I felt at home here and I liked the school a lot,” he said, “the more laid back ‘family’ style to the way students interact with each other and their teachers is something that I really appreciate.”
Among the changes, Reid hopes to apply to the program is a new concept for the Spring Concert. “I have certain goals for the spring concert, we’re gonna change what used to be a formal concert in huss with the band on stage and the audience in the seats, to something that more resembles a nightclub. The audience will be on the stage with the band, we’ll set up tables, chairs, and candles for them to sit at.” With this idea, Reid hopes the concert will have more of a “cabaret” feel. This too is something on Reid’s list of concert ideas that have previously worked.
Reid’s main long-term goal for the Jazz Ensemble is to “make the program stronger as a whole.” He looks towards the next generation of Jazz Ensemble musicians in the lower school to add strength to the program. He hopes by introducing them to the different program and instrument options SPA has to offer, students will stick with their instruments longer; contributing to the longevity of the SPA jazz program.