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Seniors jazz up Star-Spangled Banner for Nats game

Seniors+Patrick+Wright+%28far+left%29+and+Ethan+Dodd+%28center%29+played+the+national+anthem+at+the+Nationals+game+Sept.+28+in+a+quartet.+Blues+Alley+Youth+Orchestra+and+director+Michael+Bowie+%28far+right%29+organized+the+jazz+arrangement.+Photo+courtesy+Patrick+Wright.+
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Seniors jazz up Star-Spangled Banner for Nats game

Seniors Patrick Wright (far left) and Ethan Dodd (center) played the national anthem at the Nationals game Sept. 28 in a quartet. Blues Alley Youth Orchestra and director Michael Bowie (far right) organized the jazz arrangement. Photo courtesy Patrick Wright.

Seniors Patrick Wright (far left) and Ethan Dodd (center) played the national anthem at the Nationals game Sept. 28 in a quartet. Blues Alley Youth Orchestra and director Michael Bowie (far right) organized the jazz arrangement. Photo courtesy Patrick Wright.

Seniors Patrick Wright (far left) and Ethan Dodd (center) played the national anthem at the Nationals game Sept. 28 in a quartet. Blues Alley Youth Orchestra and director Michael Bowie (far right) organized the jazz arrangement. Photo courtesy Patrick Wright.

Seniors Patrick Wright (far left) and Ethan Dodd (center) played the national anthem at the Nationals game Sept. 28 in a quartet. Blues Alley Youth Orchestra and director Michael Bowie (far right) organized the jazz arrangement. Photo courtesy Patrick Wright.

By Naren Roy

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Seniors Ethan Dodd and Patrick Wright performed the national anthem at the Washington Nationals game Sept. 28 in a horn quartet.

The pair earned the opportunity through their weekly participation in Blues Alley Youth Orchestra, a select jazz ensemble in D.C. They began rehearsing the jazz arrangement the week of the performance, with Dodd on saxophone and Wright on trumpet.

“I  think this is basically a once in a lifetime type of thing,” Wright said. “It was really cool to be a part of.”

The quartet met the challenge of playing the arrangement’s complex harmonies against the sound system’s delay and hope to carry lessons from these difficulties into future performances, Wright explained.

“It was a really good experience for me because you have, to a lesser extent, the same types of harmonies in the Whitman big band,” Wright said. “I think getting that training for listening has helped me and will help me a lot here,” Wright said.

The experience also held symbolic meaning, Dodd said.

“I have great respect for our military, our police and people who put their lives on the line, so I consider it very important to respect the national anthem,” Dodd said. “I enjoyed that aspect of it, and I thought it was an honor to be chosen.”

Each musician participates in two in-school ensembles including Whitman’s jazz ensemble. In addition, Dodd and Wright pile on numerous musical extracurriculars such as the Maryland Classic Youth Orchestra and Montgomery County Senior Honors Jazz Ensemble, respectively.

“They are skilled enough, their reading chops are strong enough that they can put something like that together and have it be really good, but that’s because they’re committed musicians,” instrumental music director Terry Alvey said. “They are two of our top musicians at this school.”

Performing for a stadium full of strangers in a professional setting also proved a different experience from typical, smaller and more familiar jazz gigs or classical settings, Dodd said.

“I could put it on a resume, and it’s a cool gig—it’s not paid but it’s just cool to [play for] an audience that large,” said Dodd.

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