On May 17, starting at noon, is the fourth annual Jazz on the Green (JOG) concert. The outdoor event will include sets from the MBHS Preservationists and Jazz Ensemble, with special guests the Euphoria Brass Band (including Balmat). Food and refreshments will be available.
Then, on May 29, the school’s auditorium will be the location of “The May Show,” which will feature the entire music program, including the Preservationists, jazz ensemble, choir and concert band. In total, 120 students will take part.
Balmat said each concert experience will be unique.
“I am always tailoring sets to excite our audience,” Balmat said. “Jazz on the Green, which takes place outside in the school’s quad area, will feature many genres of jazz, from swing to brass band. ‘The May Show,’ which takes place inside the auditorium, will be a mixture of jazz, classical and vocal pieces.”
Given a preference, he gives Jazz on the Green the slight edge.
“I love playing outdoors,” he said. “It’s a more relaxed environment, and I think it allows the audience to connect more with the performers. JOG is the perfect event for this. ‘The May Show’ is a more formal concert, so inside is more suiting.”
According to Balmat, not only are shows like this fun, they are also crucial to the program’s existence. “These events allow our students to showcase their talents and allows us to show the community all the hard work that goes on inside the classroom,” he said. “It is also very important when it comes to fundraising. We are in constant need of funds for new instruments, coaches, music, you name it.”
This has included student field trip to New Orleans — the birthplace of jazz — where they have participated in workshops and played acclaimed concerts.
Speaking from personal experience, he said music a vital part of a student’s curriculum.
“Music is the reason I came to school every day,” he said. “Sometimes we get lost in the sea of students, but music is a way for these students to shine and be proud about their own abilities. It is a very personal thing, while still emphasizing the importance of team work.”
Despite the hours of hard work as a teacher and event organizer, Balmat said he is happy to be making music and helping students.
“I love the music we perform,” he said. “I try to make every piece we play personal, taking into account what the students will find exciting. If the students see me excited, hopefully that will rub off,” he said. “I enjoy seeing students ‘get it.’ There is a change when students see the power and enjoyment of taking their craft seriously. When they are able to get to that point, they will always be able to find music when they need it.”
Balmat grows reflective.
“It’s like becoming fluent in a language,” he said. “You no longer think, you react. I can’t help but be here every day to see those moments. It makes all the hours worth it,” he said.
• JAZZ ON THE GREEN/”MAY DAY SHOW”: Saturday, May 17 and May 29, MISSION BAY HIGH SCHOOL, 2475 Grand Ave. All ages. www.missionbaymusic.com.