Jason Harris, Music Director                        Kat Norton, Choreographer

Jason Harris holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Music Education from the University of Missouri - St. Louis and a Master of the Arts in Music from Webster University.  Mr. Harris is an active musician in the St. Louis area with over twenty years of professional experience.  A recent trumpet professor at Lindenwood University, Jason has performed trumpet with Opera Theatre St. Louis, Metropolitan Orchestra of St. Louis, St. Louis Philharmonic Orchestra, Gateway Brass Quintet, Winter Opera, Washington University Symphony, Gateway Festival Orchestra, Compton Heights Concert Band, New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players, Webster Symphony Orchestra, Illinois Symphony, Susan Slaughter’s Holiday Brass, St. Louis Brass Band, and the American Kantorei Orchestra to name a few.  Currently, Jason is a member of the Union Avenue Opera Orchestra, the Clarion Brass Quintet, and the Arch City Brass.  On occasion, he performs with Spectrum, Trilogy, The Bob Kuban Brass, and The Steve Schankman Jazz Orchestra.  For about decade, Jason sounded “Taps” at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery for over 10,000 military funerals.

Mr. Harris previously taught band at McKinley Middle School for St. Louis Public Schools.  During this tenure, he founded and directed the Scottish Rite Youth Wind Ensemble, whose mission was to serve as a resource for educating and mentoring inner city music students by providing high quality performance opportunities for those students lacking the necessary resources to participate in other established community ensembles.  In 2007 the Scottish Rite - Valley of St. Louis presented Jason with their Volunteer of the Year award for his efforts in leading the Wind Ensemble, which for several years, benefited many inner-city music students.

Currently, Mr. Harris is entering his 10th year as Band Director for the Maplewood Richmond Heights School District, where he leads a cutting edge music program in a technology based curriculum.  To meet the needs of his students, school, and community, Jason created an innovative performing ensemble called the Blue Devils Rhythm and Blues Band.  This unique and ‘non-traditional’ music group melds music education and dance with transformative technology, resulting in state-of-the-art performances through a varied repertoire of musical hits spanning the past five decades including Oldies, Motown, Funk, Rhythm & Blues, Dance, Disco, and Classic Rock.  This group of instrumentalists, vocalists, and dancers, along with their audio, video, and tech crews serve as the 'pep' band for high school sporting events and district assemblies while maintaining a busy performing schedule within the community.  Jason transcribes, composes, and arranges all of the music for this ensemble.  Likewise, these same arrangements are often used by many of the top professional variety bands in the midwest.  The Blue Devils Rhythm & Blues Band was one of three ensembles chosen in North America to perform at the 2014 National School Boards Association Conference in New Orleans, LA for its’ breakthrough approach in music education.

A number of Jason’s students have participated in the Missouri All-State Concert Band, Orchestra and Jazz Ensembles, as well as the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra, Webster Community Music School Youth Orchestra, and the Jazz-U All Stars at Jazz at St. Louis.  In 2014, Mr. Harris’ high school jazz combo was selected to perform at the Music Research and Teacher Education National Conference for the National Association for Music Education.  Jason is currently serving as the Past President for the St. Louis Suburban Music Educators Association and is a member of the Musicians' Association of St. Louis, Local 2-197 of the American Federation of Musicians.

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Kat Norton earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance Performance from Missouri State University, where she concentrated her studies on contemporary dance, modern dance, lyrical jazz dance, ballet, Horton, Graham, movement exploration and contact improvisation.  She further broadened her performance expertise by studying anatomy, kinesiology, theater lighting design, stage costuming, and script analysis.

While pursuing her artistic passions at Missouri State, Kat performed with the Inertia Dance Company.  In addition to seasonal dance concerts, Inertia’s primary focus was centered on promoting cultural literacy and arts in education for public schools through initiatives that enhanced learning through movement.  Aside from members of the ensemble devoting their time and energies to working with underprivileged children, the company also cultivated an innovative approach to bringing stories from children’s books to life through music and dance.  During Kat’s tenure with the company, the group would typically visit 30 schools each season, presenting their children’s stories and leading young people through a variety of uniquely gratifying dance experiences.  Every season concluded with a two-day performance workshop in Jonesboro, Arkansas, where members of Inertia Dance Company led inspiring classes focused on dance technique and creative movement for over 3,000 children.

Nearing the completion of her degree, Kat’s culminating choreographic work, Torrential Thirst, was one of ten regional dance pieces from the Midwest selected for adjudication and performance at the 2001 American College Dance Festival (ACDF) Master Showcase Concert.  ACDF was founded in 1973 to acknowledge and foster the role that colleges had played in the development of dance since the 1960s.  The annual festival now encompasses over 300 colleges, universities, and member institutions.  Today, ACDF sponsors 11 regional conferences where colleges and universities submit choreographed pieces to be adjudicated by nationally recognized dance professionals.

Post college, Kat returned to her high school alma mater where she is currently serving as the Administrative Assistant to the Superintendent.  Throughout her tenure at Maplewood Richmond Heights School District, Kat has continuously initiated and led empowering dance opportunities for high school students.  In 2005 she choreographed MRH High School’s production of the musical Godspell.  She then went on to lead the High School’s Dance Team from 2006-2008, where her students performed annually at multiple school sporting events, as well as the all-district Academic Awards Celebration.

In 2014 Kat became the choreographer for MRH High School’s nationally recognized Blue Devils Rhythm & Blues Band, where she has continued sharing her creative approach to exploring movement and dance while simultaneously enriching the pioneering music performance curriculum.  Students participating in this cutting edge ensemble, whether as vocalists or instrumentalists, are exposed to fundamental elements of movement and dance throughout the school year, where they are provided numerous opportunities to integrate movement with music performance at school district and community sponsored events.  Kat’s most recent large-scale original dance numbers performed by the Rhythm & Blues Band include selections from Footloose, Hit the Road Jack, Twistin’ the Night Away, Ghostbusters, This is Halloween, Thriller, Uptown Funk, and Shout.  

Kat eagerly pursues continuous growth and development as an artist by regularly participating in a variety of challenging dance classes, primarily with Consuming Kinetics Dance Company, where her studies include Contemporary Dance, Commercial Hip-hop, Krump, Zumba, Ballet Floor Barre, and Music Made Visible.  She also participates intermittently in a variety of movement classes around the St. Louis area, such as social swing dance, ballroom dance, and aerial yoga.

© Jason Harris 2012