Jones High School Carnegie Hall Pt.2-The Orlando Times
Jones High Student Musicians Are Invited To Perform At Carnegie Hall
BY JALESSA CASTILLO, TIMES STAFF WRITER
ORLANDO – Located in the urban heart of Orlando, an educational institution’s history began in 1895. The school, now known as Jones High School, was first an old frame building on the southwest corner of Garland Ave. and Church St. Later it was moved to the corner of Jefferson and Chatham Streets and was named Johnson Academy in Honor of Lymus Johnson, the principal.
In 1912, L.C. Jones became principal of Johnson Academy. Under his leadership, a new school was built in 1921 on the corner of Washington St. and Parramore Ave. Because his family donated the land for the school, the school was renamed Jones High School. In 1931, Jones High School had its first graduation of students completing the twelfth grade.
Now, the famed school that has produced some of the most distinguished doctors, scientists, and actors in the nation has received another prestigious honor. Its Concert Choir and Wind Ensemble have been invited to perform at the mecca of musical prowess, Carnegie Hall.
“The skills demonstrated by these two groups continue the high standard performance tradition begun in the mid-twentieth century by Lessie Brayboy Weaver and passed to Edna Sampson Hargrett, then to Darlene Coleman and now Ms. Green, in the case of the Choir, and by James “Chief” Wilson and now to Mr. Nicholas, in the case of the Wind Ensemble,” said Dr. Carl MaultBy, a JHS alumni. “For the Jones High students that make the trip, it will be a life changings experience that will hopefully spark visions of possibilities they could previously not imagine thereby inspiring the entire student body to dream and set goals obtainable by inspiration, dedication and hard work.”
Built by philanthropist Andrew Carnegie in 1891, the 3,671-seated hall located in New York City has set the international standard for musical excellence.
“Carnegie Hall is a landmark institution that is synonymous with excellence. In my mind, that makes it a perfect destination for our beloved Jones High School wind ensemble and choir,” said Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs. “For decades, Jones High School has been known for the quality and spirited exuberance of their performing and cultural organizations. Their legendary status and impressive track record of achievement has earned them this invitation, and I wish them well in pursuing this dream.”
In April and May of 1892 pianist W. T. Talbert become the first African American to appear at Carnegie Hall.
Sharing his recital programs were African Americans Tillie Jones Thomas, soprano; Deseria Plato, mezzo-soprano; George Boardley, tenor; Walter Craig, violinist; and Henry T. Burleigh, noted composer, baritone, and pianist.
JHS’ April 5-8 trip will send 100 students and chaperones to participate in the music festival, attend a Broadway show and enjoy sightseeing.
Nine schools from the Nation have been invited to perform at the Main Hall (Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage). For The National Instrumental Music Festival, April 7 at 1p.m., the Carnegie Hall website lists the following featured bands: North Broward Preparatory School Orchestra and Wind Ensemble, Coconut Creek, FL; Ronald Reagan/Doral High School Bison Band Wind Symphony, Doral, FL; Jones High School Wind Ensemble, Orlando, FL; and River Trail Middle School Chamber Orchestra, Duluth, GA.
As for the World Strides National Youth Choir performance on April 7 at 8:30 p.m., the JHS concert choir was originally chosen to be part of a mass choir of students under the direction of internationally acclaimed conductors Lynn Gackle from Baylor University and Edith A. Copley. However, they have recently been rewarded the opportunity to perform the opening number for the concert as well, performing two of their own songs under the conduction of JHS Concert Choir Director, Andrea Green.
“Carnegie Hall is a sacred place for music so the fact that our students have the opportunity and the honor to go play there is amazing,” said JHS Principal Allison Kirby. “They will be able to not only experience playing at the world-renowned stage but also going to New York, many of them have not been outside of Florida. For them to have this experience together will be life changing.”
“We are excited! This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for our students and our school,” said JHS Alumni Rear Admiral David Brewer. “They will be working with some the nation’s top musical commissions as they practice and get ready for their performance.”
With about four weeks left in its campaign to raise $200,000 for the trip, the Jones High School Foundation (JHSF) has had solicitation campaigns and public performances by the JHS musical groups. To date, the campaign has raised $92,000. Students must raise the remaining funds by March 15 to attend.
“We are extremely proud of our Jones High School students and teachers who will be featured at this national event. Jones has a long history of stellar music programs, so this latest accolade is well deserved,” said Superintendent, Dr. Barbara Jenkins.
Community members, organizations, and businesses are being admonished to go to SupportJonesHigh.com to donate. There are multiple payment options including: PayPal or credit card, an online banking option, or to mail a check to Jones High School Foundation at P.O Box 55427 Orlando, FL 32855. Additionally, a person can choose to sponsor a student which costs $2000 or donate via the company they work for and ask about match funding.
“As anyone could imagine I am extremely proud of the work we have done and of the students continued work toward the trip. That has been really inspiring to me as a teacher,” said JHS Wind Ensemble Director Jamaal Nicholas. “It allows me to see the benefit of my work in their lives, so I am extremely proud and excited for them and about what this trip is going to do for them.”
Meanwhile, performance preparation is taking place.
“We have been having rehearsals every opportunity that we can,” said Nicholas.
Last summer Nicholas received an email encouraging JHS to apply for the upcoming performance. In addition to completing an application form, they had to submit six recent recordings of their choir and wind ensemble. The selection committee then reviewed the submitted materials and he later received an invitation for the students to perform.
“The accomplishments of the Jones High School Choir and Wind Ensemble are commendable and demonstrate the group’s immense talent and hard work,” said Mayor Buddy Dyer. “Our entire community stands behind them as they represent the Orlando area at Carnegie Hall, while showcasing the skills coming from our diverse region. These amazing students are continuing the legacy of Jones High alumni.”
The entirety of the parramore community-servicing school population is on free or reduced lunch due to their financial circumstances. This makes the task of raising the funds a challenge. Yet, the dedication and devotion of the students have always helped them to overcome seemingly impossible odds, as members of the JHS Choir and Wind Ensemble are regarded as some of the best students in the nation, with over 95% of them enrolled in college.
“The preparing experience has been a new experience for me, especially being that our band director has been pushing us to limits that I haven’t yet experienced,” said Johnta Barber, JHS Percussionist. “I thought about an opportunity like this happening later on in life but not as soon as me being a sophomore in high school.”
With continued determination, they will continue to push toward their goal.
“Hard work pays off. It’s simple but I believe it is poignant and is as true and relevant now as it ever has been,” said Nicholas. “If you want to accomplish something and you believe that you can, after that it only takes the work.”
To donate please visit SupportJonesHigh.com and/or attend the following fundraiser activities: February 18, 2018, 6 PM – Third Annual Black History Month Concert, JHS Wind Ensemble & Master Singers of JHS Concert Choir, The Hope Church, 3032 Monte Carlo Trail, Orlando, FL 32805. February 22, 2018, 6 PM – Westridge Middle School Black History Program, Opus of JHS Concert Choir, 3800 W Oak Ridge Rd, Orlando, FL 32809. February 24, 2018, 9 AM – Winter Park Community Center, Master Singers of JHS Concert Choir, 721 West New England Avenue, Winter Park, FL 32789. February 28, 2018, 6 PM – Jones High School Black History Program, JHS Concert Choir, 801 S. Rio Grande Avenue, Orlando, FL 32805. March 11, 2018, 4 PM – Carnegie Hall Send-off Concert, JHS Concert Choir & JHS Wind Ensemble, St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, 4581 Apopka Vineland Road, Orlando FL 32819. For additional information, call 321-310-8346.