Grace Community School has produced two of the best young jazz musicians in the state, and they happen to be twin brothers.
Harper and Oliver Bisagno, 16, had never touched an instrument before the joining the school’s orchestra in sixth grade.
Harper chose the alto saxophone and Oliver the string bass. The boys soon found a love for the art and a passion for competition.
The school’s jazz program helped the boys broaden their horizons by showing them an alternative to the classical approach. As a result, they’re both headed to perform with the All Texas Small Schools Bands All State Jazz Band.
“It’s fun just to compete with all these other good musicians who are trying as hard as you are and seeing how you match up,” Harper said.
This year will mark Harper’s first trip to all-state and a return for Oliver, who is ranked number one in the state, according to orchestra director Jason Montier. Harper is one of only two alto saxophone players to make the band.
“The best part of going to state was getting to meet the other musicians who are just as passionate as me,” Oliver said. “I enjoyed meeting the conductors and everyone that’s really involved in music.”
Last year, Oliver was first chair in the ATSSB All State Concert Band out of all Texas schools 4A and smaller. This year, he has been selected to the Texas Music Educators Association All State Band, and will be playing in the band as first chair.
The boys credit their passion to the versatility of the instruments they chose.
“I like how versatile it is, because it can play a lot of styles easily - classical and jazz,” Harper said. “I like how unique it is.”
The audition process began over the summer. Students were given music selections to practice for a few months before their auditions.
After competing at the regional level, the brothers recorded a selection of music to audition at the state level.
All of their hard work will come to fruition in February, when the brothers play with their respective All-State bands in San Antonio.
With two more years of high school competition ahead of them, Harper and Oliver hope to make All-State every year before heading off to college.