By Kaitlyn Mattiace
The Northwood High School Arts Education Foundation recently held an event to kick off the Lecture Demonstration Series of PASPort: Professional Artist Series Portal, with a show from jazz musician, composer and educator Stanley Baird.
“We’ve got to warm up a little bit so we’re going to play one or two songs, then we’ll talk about our musical journey to this point,” said Baird, as the audience hushed and the performance began.
The show began with two long, finger-snapping jazz songs, Baird catching the audience’s attention with his saxophone.
Baird then looked toward the audience and said, “Usually, we start off our show a little more dramatic than that. We’ll start it off like we usually do it.”
Then the show really began, with a few up-beat, dramatic songs that got the audience’s toes tapping. After playing a few songs, Baird introduced his fellow musicians and told the audience how they all ended up together.
“Most concerts that you go to, you can’t really talk to [the artists], but the one that they had [at Northwood] you could…it was open to discussion,” said junior Colin Murphy.
Because they had just gotten back from Singapore, Baird explained, everyone was very tired. One wouldn’t have known, for the music was awake and upbeat.
Baird went on to share stories about his pathway through life, and how he came to play along the likes of Gladys Knight, Kirk Whalum, Patti LaBelle, Najee, Richard Elliott and Donald Byrd.
“He was a [school] band director for 30 years so I think some people might have learned, or I learned, that [for] those of us who go into education to teach, it can continue on after we retire. We can go on and be the artist, and have time to produce our work,” said Leslie Burwell, art teacher and supporter of PASPort.
PASPort aims to provide NHS students and the community with opportunities to attend and participate in lectures, programs, performances and events by talented professionals in the performing and visual arts. PASPort held two Zumba dance classes earlier in the semester as well.
“If the Northwood students attend after school, I think the ones that are there will benefit from the enrichment of getting to talk to a person first-hand about their experiences in the arts,” said Burwell.
Proceeds from PASPort events go toward scholarships from the NHSAEF, which has already given $20,000 in its history.
Future plans for the PASPort series include two jazz vocalists, a Japanese brush painting class and a drama improvisation session.
“I think that students that [don’t] see past art in a classroom versus art in the real world… might relate to the fact that these artists are coming in and providing them the experience and the knowledge,” said Burwell.