Let there be jazz

"This year's Viking Jazz Festival will be a celebration in more ways than one. First is the usual reason for North Kitsap jazz fans to be happy: the festival will again feature great jazz from junior high and high school bands and choirs from all around Western Washington. But this year there is an extra dollup of icing on the cake, because the Viking Jazz Festival is celebrating its 25th anniversary. This year's festival will kick off at 7:30 a.m. on Feb. 1. That's when the junior high band competition will begin. It will continue until 4:30 p.m. Admission is free to the all-day competition, which will be held in the community auditorium. The next day, Friday Feb. 2, will feature 26 high school bands (including North Kitsap). There is no admission charge for competition from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. North Kitsap will not take part in the 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. session, but will kick off the playoff competition, which begins at 7 p.m. and it has an admission charge of $8 per person. Since they are the hosts, North Kitsap will play but not compete. On Saturday, Feb. 3 there will be non-competitive performances by 11 senior high school choirs. The performances will run from noon until 6 p.m., and tickets for the whole day cost $5. Saturday will also feature a rarity: the North Kitsap jazz choir, after a few years of not competing, will take part in the performance. I thought, 'It's time to bring back the vocal jazz,' said the choir's director, Sylvia Cauter. Cauter is in her seventh year as the choir director at North Kitsap High School. The jazz choir students have not participated in the festival in all that time, and Cauter thinks it has been 13 or 14 years since they took part. This year will be different. I just want everyone to have an opportunity to learn, Cauter said. I want it to be a learning experience. Although she has taken choir groups to festivals around the northwest, Cauter believes that having one in the students' backyard is important. We need something around here - a festival, she said. It seems like they're all over on the other side of the water. Although the choir students have not participated in the choir competition, they are more than familiar with the festival. Elizabeth Lee, a senior who will take part in Saturday's competition, likes festivals in general, saying: (Festivals) are a lot of fun. You learn a lot. But the Viking Jazz Festival is special, she said. I'm really excited for this one. It's ours. Fellow student Maija Anderson had a brother who did technical sound work for the festival, and she was able to attend too. I thought it was fun, Anderson said. And that was back when I wasn't into jazz. Troy Criss, a senior in his second year of jazz choir, has been working along with the others on several songs, including Sophisticated Lady, Basically Blue, and A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square. He is also looking forward to the festival, and proud to have it. Not a lot of schools in the Kitsap area have their own festival, he said. "

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