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Jazz at Lincoln Center Selects Nation’s Top Big Bands To Compete In ‘Essentially Ellington’ High School Jazz Band Competition & Festival

Jazzed Magazine • News • February 20, 2019

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Jazz at Lincoln Center has announced the 15 finalists who will compete in its 24th Annual Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Competition & Festival in New York City on May 9-11.

The bands were selected from a competitive pool of 112 after submitting recordings of three tunes performed from the Essentially Ellington Library. From May 9 through the 11, these talented young musicians from all walks of life will participate in workshops, jam sessions and sectionals before competing for top honors in the House of Swing. After, a concert and awards ceremony will take place featuring this year’s top three bands alongside the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis.

Essentially Ellington shows off America’s young people at their best. High school students from across this nation have worked tirelessly on the highest quality of our orchestral music. They’ve met the challenge of mastering vocal effects on horns, of improvising fresh, new individual ideas, and of swinging, which means embracing and nurturing the common ground,” said Wynton Marsalis, managing and artistic director, Jazz at Lincoln Center. “In these divisive times, it’s important to teach and celebrate our most scared values: freedom of speech, empathetic listening, and constructive engagement with others. These kids have a lot to teach us. I’m looking forward to hearing them play, and to being instructed and inspired by them.”

Marsalis continues, “Duke Ellington envisioned the unlimited creative possibilities afforded to all of us by our way of life. This musician shared that vision and made it real. This is the banner under which we fight. It more enlightened and engaged America.”

The full list of 2019 Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Finalists includes:

  • Beloit Memorial High School (Beloit, WI)
  • Denver School of the Arts (Denver, CO)
  • Dillard Center for the Arts (Fort Lauderdale, FL)
  • Foxboro High School (Foxborough, MA)
  • Garfield High School (Seattle, WA)
  • Middleton High School (Middleton, WI)
  • Mount Si High School (Snoqualmie, WA)
  • Newark Academy (Livingston, NJ)
  • Rio Americano High School (Sacramento, CA)
  • Roosevelt High School (Seattle, WA)
  • San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts (San Diego, CA)
  • Sun Prairie High School (Sun Prairie, WI)
  • Tarpon Springs High School (Tarpon Springs, FL)
  • Philharmonic Association (Raleigh, NC)
  • William H. Hall High School (West Hartford, CT)

In addition to the top 15 high school jazz bands, Jazz at Lincoln Center announced the winner of the 7th Annual Essentially Ellington Dr. J. Douglas White Student Composition and Arranging Contest. This year, out of 21 submissions, the honor goes to Miles Lennox, of Dillard Center for the Arts (Fort Lauderdale, FL), an alumnus of Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Summer Jazz Academy program and the Essentially Ellington Competition and Festival where he won Outstanding Soloist for piano. Miles will have his composition recorded by the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and receive a $1,000 cash prize, a composition lesson with GRAMMY award-winning musician and longtime Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra member, Ted Nash, and will receive a free trip to New York City to observe and participate in the Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Competition & Festival.

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