Holmes school ready for Jazz in the Meadows competition

It was just three years ago that eighth-grader Karsyn Burgess of Mount Prospect learned to play trumpet, and only two months ago that she picked up the fluegelhorn.

You would never know it.

Karsyn and her fluegelhorn will lead Holmes Middle School's jazz ensemble Saturday, when the band plays its final competition number at Jazz in the Meadows: "Running of the Bulls."

Her fluegelhorn solo opens with a haunting melody that lingers just a bit before the full band comes in with a charging, Latin-style samba groove.

"It's my favorite of the three songs we play," Karsyn says. "We start out soft and then really push it."

Their rendition of the jazz tune, co-composed by Doug Beach, director of Elmhurst College's jazz band program, earned Holmes a first-place finish at last month's North Shore Jazz Festival. Neighboring Cooper Middle School in Buffalo Grove, placed third.

Karsyn's solo drew notice from the judges, says Bryan Itzkowitz, director of Holmes' jazz ensemble. And one of her classmates, seventh-grader Morgan Tadish of Wheeling, earned one of only four solo awards for her work on lead trombone.

"I like how (the trombone) really drives the rhythm," Morgan says.

Itzkowitz works with the jazz ensemble - one of four levels at the school - three times a week after school. Their recent rehearsals had an extra note of intensity to them, as they worked toward not only Jazz in the Meadows, but a recording session on Friday as well.

"This is a special group of kids, with a lot of heart and energy," Itzkowitz says. "But I'm trying to take the emphasis away from winning and more on being proud of how well they play."

This is the 29th year that members of Rolling Meadows High School's Fine Arts Boosters will host their acclaimed jazz festival.

Two years ago, when Wheeling High School's jazz band won the grand championship title, director Brian Logan likened it to winning a state championship, with so many of the state's top bands vying with each other at the event.

This year's festival will feature nearly 50 high schools - and more than 100 performances - as well as 15 middle schools.

Cooper's jazz band returns as the reigning champion, having won the title eight out of the last 11 years. They will be going up against River Trails Middle School and Holmes Junior High School in Mount Prospect and Thomas Middle School in Arlington Heights, among others.

Performances start at 8 a.m. and continue every half-hour throughout the day in various locations throughout the school.

The grand finale concert - featuring Grammy Award-winning bassist Victor Wooten with Derico Watson, as well as the top four division winners - begins at 4:45 p.m.

  Morgan Tadish solos on the trombone with the Holmes Middle School jazz band in Wheeling as they rehearse for the upcoming Jazz in the Meadows competition. Bob Chwedyk/

Jazz in the Meadows

The 29th annual competition features more than 100 performances by students from about 50 high schools and 15 middle schools, followed by a grand finale featuring the winners in each class and a performance by a Grammy-winning bassist.

When: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Where: Rolling Meadows High School

Tickets: $10 all-day pass, $7 senior citizens, $25 for a family of up to four

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<b>Performance schedule*</b>8 a.m. Thomas Middle School, Fremd, Rolling Meadows

8:30 a.m. Fremont Middle School, Schaumburg, Grayslake, Palatine, Thomas Middle School, Fremd, Rolling Meadows

9 a.m. Antioch, Wheaton North, Lake Zurich

9:30 a.m. Prospect, Fremd

10 a.m. Fremont Middle School, Schaumburg, Barrington

10:30 a.m. Carmel

11 a.m. Fremd

11:30 a.m. Grayslake Middle School, Warren

1 p.m. Sandburg Junior High, Hersey

1:30 p.m. Lake Zurich, Barrington

2 p.m. Elk Grove, Vernon Hills, Warren, Mundelein

2:30 p.m. Holmes Junior High School in Mount Prospect, Wheeling, West Aurora, Marmion Rosary, Buffalo Grove, Hersey, Rolling Meadows

3 p.m. Holmes Middle School in Wheeling, Prospect, Lake Zurich, Elk Grove

3:30 p.m. Cooper Middle School, Warren, Buffalo Grove, Bolingbrook, Hersey

4 p.m. River Trails Middle School, Hersey, West Aurora, Wheeling, Marmion Rosary

* Bands in Daily Herald circulation area

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