High School Jam

On the morning of Saturday 22 August, Wynberg Girls’ High Jazz Combo was waiting in absolute anticipation to take to the stage of Grand West’s Grand Arena with Boys’ High Jazz Band. Levels of excitement were at an all-time high as the band set up behind the curtains, hearing various schools cheering for the bands in the crowd of the arena. For the fifth year running, the High School Jam Competition gave ten schools of the Western Cape the opportunity to showcase their music and entertainment skills on a famous platform, on the same stage on which so many of their idols have performed.

At 11:00 sharp the curtains parted and the combined band wowed the crowd with a mashup of 16 popular and classic songs, conducted by Blake Hellaby – the Boys’ High Jazz Band teacher, and supported by Keenan Oliphant and Ms Pearce from the audience. After a number of lengthly after-hour rehearsals, the bands were finally having their “glory moment”, bringing the crowd the their feet with renditions of “I Can’t Feel My Face”, “The End of The Road”, “Thinking Out Loud” and “Love On Top”. After their half-hour set, the band  and dancers returned to backstage with huge smiles and a feeling of pride and accomplishment at what they had achieved together under the guidance of their dedicated, supportive teachers.

Later on Saturday evening, it was announced that the combined band had not only made it to the final alongside the bands from Paarl Vallei High and Elsies River High, but had also won the spirit prize jointly with Elsies River High School! The band trouped to the Alf Morris Centre on Saturday night for a late-night rehearsal to ensure that their final performance was polished and slick. The group added a few songs to their setlist and choreographed dances for those songs, and were exhausted but still energised and excited for the next morning’s performance.

The group met at 8:00 at Grand West on Sunday morning, had a quick soundcheck, and honed in on their energy and passion for music, dance and entertaining the masses, for was an awesome final performance. Both of the competing bands delivered very enjoyable performances that had the band on its feet in the audience after their performance, enjoying the atmosphere of the morning together.

The judges were well-known members of Cape Town’s music scene and placed Elsies River as the winners of the final and expressed how impressed and proud they were of the future performers of our country’s music scene. Our brilliant drummer, Jamie-Lee Benjamin, won the prize of best drummer of the entire competition, taking the title of “Best School Drummer in the Western Cape” and was excited to receive various sets of drumming equipment as a result. The Prize for “Best Spirit” is R15000 worth of music equipment to be shared between our two schools, as well as the Overall Runners’ Up prize of R10000.

At the end of the competition and the final performance, the group wished to express their deep gratitude to the three teachers which gave up many hours after school to coach, encourage and truly strecth the learners to perform on an entirely new level and with true unity between the singers, dancers and musicians, as well as all the people who showed their support at Grand West, it was lovely for our performers to see some familiar faces in the crowd and hear the cheers of family and friends from centre stage.