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James Hart Symphonic Band earns top honors

James Hart band director Matt Johnson directs the symphonic band during its March concert. The band won top rankings recently. (Provided photo)

The James Hart School Symphonic Band received the highest rating offered to a Division 1 school during judging in the IGSMA District Organizing Contest March 12.

Band Director Matthew Johnson said it’s the seventh straight year the band has earned this ranking. The band’s success made the band eligible for IGSMA state festival performances in April.

Johnson thanked Homewood-Flossmoor music teachers Sarah Whitlock and Andrew Hoefle for conducting a band clinic for jazz and symphonic band members to help Hart musicians prepare for the IGSMA contest after the jazz and symphonic bands concert March 8.

The James Hart Jazz Band performed in February at the inaugural Old Quarry Middle School Jazz Festival in Lemont.

“Following a fun and high energy performance of a varied set list, the band received a clinic with Chicago-based jazz artists Dana Legg and Bryan Itzkowitz, and later participated in masterclasses with members of the Jon Dietermeyer Quintet,” Johnson said.

In addition, Hart had 28 seventh and eighth graders perform individually and in their chamber ensembles at IGSMA’s District Solo & Ensemble Contest in February earning a combined 14 Division 1 ratings and one Division 2 rating.

The January rise in the COVID Omicron variant numbers forced the cancellation of the in-person concert Jan. 11 by the District 153 fifth and sixth grade beginning bands. Johnson said they did the next best thing, making a video recording of the performances so family and friends could watch the students perform.

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