Students strike right notes at Far East Jazz & Modern Music Fest


Students strike right notes at Far East Jazz & Modern Music Fest

by: Dave Ornauer | .
Stars and Stripes | .
published: November 21, 2016

KADENA AIR BASE – Katie Lambie hasn’t seen the inside of many classrooms lately. The Yokota junior had very good reason.

She spent the first full week of November helping her Panthers volleyball team make history with the first Far East tournament title in the school’s 43-year history.

Lambie then followed that up by traveling to Kadena during the week of Nov. 14 for Far East Jazz and Modern Music Festival. All told, 57 students from DODEA-Pacific schools in Japan, Korea, Okinawa and Guam spent four days practicing and playing.

“I got a lot of homework,” Lambie said.

The festival featured a garage-band concert in American Village near Camp Lester on Wednesday evening, then the full finale on Thursday at Kadena High School auditorium, including the garage band plus a choir and brass-and-woodwinds session.

It’s one of several DODEA-Pacific activities scheduled during a very short span. In addition to sports week Nov. 5-12, Far East JROTC Drill was conducted last week at Yokota, Far East Journalism is slated for Nov. 29-Dec. 2 on Okinawa and Film and Creative Expression Dec. 12-16 at Temple University’s Tokyo campus.

“Especially at a smaller school, some students may be gone to a Far East activity half the year,” said Adam Mitchell, a Lester Middle School instructor who’s been involved in the jazz and modern music since its birth in 2009.

Most students involved in activities are in the upper crust, Mitchell said. “Most have shown they can handle the workload. And the experience you get in one of these is as valuable as class time.”

Lambie fronted the garage band along with Yokota senior Tatem Warminsky, who a week earlier was busy with Far East cheerleading at Matthew C. Perry. Seoul American and Osan American won the team titles at that event, marking a first-ever sweep by those two schools.

Lambie, Warminsky, two students each from Guam High and Robert D. Edgren and one each from Daegu, Nile C. Kinnick and Seoul American, auditioned and were selected for the garage band. They had to practice, rehearse and compose one original song to be performed Wednesday and Thursday.

The band, which they named Black Fox 13, did that and performed popular songs such as Paramore’s “Ain’t It Fun” and oldies such as Queen’s “Crazy Little Thing Called Love.” The crowds were delighted particularly by Seoul’s Tristan Henley and his resemblance to Michael J. Fox’s Marty McFly character from “Back To The Future.”

“Over time, we started singing, built chemistry, got close and became a family,” Lambie said. “So many different voices, so many interests.”

The choir concert featured numbers by acts as varied as U2, Ella Fitzgerald and Billy Joel. Soloists included Matt Sellers, a Kadena senior who was at Far East tennis the week before.

And the jazz concert included numbers such as Count Basie’s “Jumping At The Woodside,” Mike Lewis’ “One More For The Count” and wound up with a rousing rendition of Kris Berg’s Cheep Tricks.”

For one Seoul American student who plays baseball in spring, the music didn’t end with the festival; he was slated to audition for the III Marine Expeditionary Force band soon after returning to Korea, and plans on enlisting in the Marine Corps into music.

It could mean a return for him to Okinawa in a military music capacity. “I love Okinawa,” Bell said of that possibility.

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