Two N’ Four Vocal Jazz Ensemble perform at Monterey Jazz Festival

Members of the Valencia High School Choir practices in advance of a performance. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

This weekend, 16 current and former students in Valencia High School’s Two N’ Four Vocal Jazz Ensemble had the unique opportunity to perform at the 60th annual Monterey Jazz Festival.

The school choir was one of three in the nation selected to perform in the professional lineup of more than 500 artists.

“We’re just really thankful and grateful that we got selected to perform,” Choir Director Christine Tavares-Mocha said.  “More than that, we’re just lucky that we have the support of parents and the community as a public school to represent our school, our city and our state in this festival.”

Held at the Monterey County Fairgrounds from Friday to Sunday, the Monterey Jazz Festival celebrates the legacy of jazz and expands its boundaries through a production of performances and educational programs.

For three days and two nights, artists from across the country participate in the longest-running jazz festival in the world.

The Valencia High School Choir practices on Friday ahead of a performance at the Monterrey Jazz Festival on Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

The group of six recent graduates and 10 current Valencia High School students was invited to participate in the festival in March when they were named the runner up in the high school vocal division at the 2017 Next Generation Jazz Festival.

During their Sunday afternoon performance, the students performed the same set they won with six months ago.

“They thought it was unbelievable and felt it went full-circle.  They worked so hard for four years,” Tavares-Mocha said.  “It was an amazing and prestigious event so they were on cloud 9 and so was I as their teacher.  It was such an honor, as a public school teacher, to be selected for something like that.”

Tavares-Mocha said it was both exciting and humbling to watch her students perform independently on the stage at a prestigious event.

“It is really amazing to watch these students grow and then you see them on stage and they do so well and are so professional and you forget that they’re high school students,” she said.  “Many of these students never had any musical training before they joined choir and to see how far they’ve come is amazing as a teacher.”

This is not the only success of the Two N’ Four Vocal Jazz Ensemble during their 2016-17 season.

This past year the choir won first place in the Fullerton Jazz Festival and first place in the California Verdugo Hills A Cappella Festival.

They also are the winter of six DownBeat Awards including the 2017 winner of “Top High School Vocal Jazz Ensemble” and spent their summer traveling France and performing throughout the country.

The Valencia High School Choir practices on Friday ahead of a performance at the Monterrey Jazz Festival on Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

It is a path of success that Tavares-Mocha and her students hope to continue during their upcoming competition and performance season, as they attempt to be part of the Monterey Jazz Festival again.

“We will always try, this is our fourth year being at the Monterey Jazz Festival,” Tavares-Mocha said.  “Every year is a new group with new students and it’s kind of exciting that way…  As older students graduate newer students step up to the plate.”

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On Twitter as @_ChristinaCox_

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