Student ensembles jazz it up in concert

Great Expectations Academy's Jazz Band member are, front row from left, Kaelynn McWhirter, Celeste Barrett, Elise Smith, Isa Dixon, Porter Smith and, middle row from left, Caleb Cornaby, Annika Gibson, Logan Camacho, Annie Dixon and, top row from left, band leader and director at Mark Phillips, Addison Smith, Karen Cornaby, Conner Nielsen, Alex Nielsoen, Kiran Ludwick and Adam Gillespie.

Spend a delightful, musical two hours listening to six different jazz ensembles featuring students from Great Expectations Academy, Continental School, Sahuarita Middle School, Walden Grove High School, Rio Rico High School and Nogales High School.

You will also get to appreciate how Valle Verde Rotary Club, in partnership with Green Valley Pecan Company, has helped bring these students’ musical talents to the stage.

Enjoy listening and watching as these young musicians play their various instruments at an afternoon Jazz in the Desert XI concert in the comfort of the Quail Creek Clubhouse ballroom on Saturday, Feb. 29, from 1 to 3 p.m.

Since the Valle Verde Rotary Club began this fundraiser a little over a decade ago, it has donated more than $110,000 to support jazz ensemble programs to the schools that perform in this event.

With many great causes to support out there, what prompted retired and older members of the Valle Verde Rotary Club to go all out in favor of supporting young local musicians?

Jim Rusk, chairman of Jazz in the Desert XI and a Valle Verde Rotary Club member, easily explains: “We all have grandkids that we’re proud of, and supporting young musicians was an easy call. This afternoon performance is a great way to experience the talent and sophistication of the area’s young musicians.

“There are concerts, there are dinners, and there are fundraisers, but Jazz in the Desert is a truly unique experience. Watching these young adults perform at the level they do will blow you away,” Rusk points out.

He refers to these student musicians as “talented, dedicated and hardworking, and a true testament of the youth of today.”

At each year’s concert, he has been so impressed by the students’ music that he takes a moment to close his eyes to just listen. And when he does, he said, “it’s hard to believe these musicians are middle and high school students.”

This is a one-time, close-to-home afternoon concert opportunity — with plenty of free popcorn — to see and hear what local student jazz musicians have accomplished with great music teachers, plenty of practice and the support of the Valle Verde Rotary Club.

Contact Green Valley News freelance reporter Ellen Sussman at

Load comments