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Bear River High is all jazzed up

Garrett Fevinger
The Cal Poly Vocal Jazz Choir will perform at "Fantasy of Stars" at Bear River High School Friday and Saturday.
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The spirit of a 14-year-old tradition will make its annual return Friday to a Nevada County stage. Accompanied by more singing, dancing, and live music, the Bear River jazzed-up production of “Fantasy of Stars” hopes to wow audiences for three performances this weekend.

The event will showcase Bear River High School’s jazz ensembles, Starlite Express and Jazz Unlimited – both of which have collected a fair share of recognition. The Starlite Express has claimed numerous awards throughout the state, and Jazz Unlimited earned top marks at the RAVES Jazz Festival last year and has been invited to perform at Carnegie Hall.

Accompanying Starlite Express and Jazz Unlimited will be newly-formed ladies vocal jazz group, Dash of Jazz, and the Magnolia Middle School Starmakers. And as a special treat to audiences who attend the Saturday performances, the Cal Poly Jazz Choir will make a guest appearance, marking a first for Fantasy of the Stars.

“This is the first time we’ve ever hosted a college. They’re [Cal Poly Jazz Choir] really a top group so we’re really excited to have them,” said Fantasy of Stars director Cherry Hayes.

The appearance of the college choir will also hit a sentimental note, as Cal Poly performers Lauren Baumgardner and Andrea Beahm are Bear River alumni.

According to Hayes, the production has delighted area jazz lovers for so long, partly because of the nontraditional and high-quality setting the concert provides.

“It’s very different than a normal concert… we bring in the very best from throughout the state. The community has always loved the solos and duets that go on in between the main acts, and this is a chance for them to see these groups before the spring competitions,” said Hayes. Fantasy of Stars is a perfect opportunity for the ensembles to test their nerves and new musical numbers before those spring competitions, which include the RAVES Jazz Festival in Redding, the San Jose Jazz Festival and the AVID Festival in Vancouver, Canada.

The show’s popularity is also fueled by a talent-filled roster of teens that provide a professionalism and quality year after year – teens such as Bear River senior Benton White.

This year’s performance marks White’s fifth and final showing at Fantasy of Stars. White points out the show has given him much more than an after-school hobby.

“As I prepare to leave high school, I have a very fond memory of the show… it’s taught me a lot about myself and it’s given me a lot of confidence. I made so many close friends,” said White.

These rewards certainly did not come without sacrifice.

Rehearsals for the show began the first week school was in session and have since only increased.

“There was the big push in January right after we came back from break. The kids in Starlite Express will be performing 10 songs, and they just learned seven of them,” said Hayes.

Despite the time-consuming rehearsal hours and late-night practices, Fantasy of Stars has continued to remain something students recognize as worthy of such investments, even after all these years.

“I like how the show is very professional. It’s nice to give back to the community through entertainment,” said White.

Geared for the entire family, “Fantasy of Stars” starts Friday with music, dancing and, of course, all that jazz.


WHAT: Bear River High School1s annual 3Fantasy of Stars²

WHEN: Friday at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

WHERE: Nevada Union High School1s Don Baggett Theater, 11761 Ridge Road, Grass Valley

ADMISSION: Reserved seating is $10 for adults, $8 for students and seniors. Tickets at the Bear River Student Store, the Real Estate Center and Foothill Mercantile


268-3700 ext. 4833


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