Jazz Band to travel to Spain, Portugal on spring break trip

Josie Abugov

Jazz Band students and a select group of Studio Jazz Band seniors will tour Spain and Portugal during spring break.

They will depart from Los Angeles March 25 and travel to Granada, Seville and Lisbon, returning April 3.

The group will be traveling to schools for exchange concerts and activities with Spanish students during the day.

In the evenings, they will perform in theatres or with a jazz choir.
Jazz Band teacher Shawn Costantino, part-time music teacher Matthew Yeakley and Director of Sports Medicine Milo Sini will chaperone the 31 student performers.

“It’s like a supplement to the class time,” Constantino said. “Only four days a week for 45 minutes; it’s hard to make a really great music program [in that amount of time]. When we travel together, we get to be together, talk about music, play music, and we’re in a new country that most of the kids haven’t been to. We’re stuck on a bus together, so there’s nothing to do but talk about jazz.”

They will begin in Granada, explore the Albayzin and conclude the first day with dinner in a local restaurant. They will continue in Granada with a guided tour of the Alhambra palace, an excursion to the Costa del Sol and the first concert performance.

“[I’m excited about] just getting to bond with the class,” Jazz Band member Melanie Hirsh ’18 said. “I’m in a combo with some people from Studio Jazz, so I don’t get to play with them everyday. So it’s definitely a good experience to play with different and new people.”

The performers will continue their tour in Seville, stopping in Cordoba for a guided tour and a concert at the Seville music conservatory.
After another day of sightseeing, they will participate in a rehearsal with local jazz artists and a joint concert at the Seville music conservatory.

“Aside from being excited about seeing these great cities, I am very excited to be able to play and perform in them,” Ben Weinman ’17 said. “I am most looking forward to experiencing a real tour and what that is like. I love to play and perform jazz and think all will go well.”

Lisbon will be the final destination, and after two days of sightseeing in the Portugese capital and a closing concert, Jazz Band will return home.

In preparation for the upcoming trip, Costantino has been holding weekly Sunday rehearsals since Jan. 15.

“I have three jazz combos and a 20-piece big band, so we really have four independent bands going,” Constantino said. “We’re playing almost 50 pieces of music. There’s a lot to do.”

In addition to getting more practice time, he hopes the extra rehearsals will allow students to bond before the trip.

“It’s a very extracurricular thing,” Constantino said. “The parents come. We’ll have pancakes and French toast. Then we rehearse from [10 a.m. to 1 p.m.],” Costantino said.

Jazz Band will also perform at Vibrato Grill Jazz March 20. The proceeds from that performance, which is open to the public, will go toward financial aid for the trip.

In his 10 years with the Harvard-Westlake music program, Costantino has led several trips abroad.

“I think that as part of the overall educational experience for the kids here, it’s very important,” Costantino said. “I don’t think the jazz program would be as good as it is if we didn’t travel.”