NWSA jazz ensemble recognized at Essentially Ellington Competition

By Maria M. Flores….

Pictured is Tony Madruga, piano, who received the Ella Fitzgerald Award, given to the outstanding soloist of the entire competition

It was indeed an exciting evening for the New World School of the Arts Jazz Ensemble, as it received top honors among 110 competing bands in the prestigious Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Competition and Festival.

Receiving honorable mention (fourth place), under the direction of Dr. Peter Francis, jazz band director, and Jim Gasior, assistant director and interim dean of music at New World School of the Arts, the band was chosen by a panel of judges composed of distinguished jazz musicians and historians.

Among the judges was artistic director Wynton Marsalis; composer, conductor and Ellington authority David Berger; composer and arranger Rich Derosa; trombonist, educator and Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra member Vincent Gardner, and drummer and big band leader Jeff Hamilton.

New World School of the Arts also received a rhythm section award.

It was an incredible opportunity for the band to work with Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, the top jazz performers and educators in the world. It also was a chance for the students to meet and interact with their national peers, some of the top student jazz musicians in the country.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for most students fortunate enough to participate,” Dr. Francis said. “Remarkably, New World School of the Arts has been selected as a finalist band eight times, competing against far larger schools who typically field their older students in their best band. By contrast, NWSA has one jazz band containing all grade levels. We are extremely proud of the hard work exhibited by all of our students.”

Numerous NWSA jazz students have been recognized for their musicianship on a national scale. Students have received Downbeat Student Music Awards and been selected to perform with the High School Grammy Band in Los Angeles, CA.

Of the 57 solo awards offered during the 2011 Essentially Ellington competition, six were awarded to New World School of the Arts students: Thomas Dover, trombone; Rane Roatta, tenor saxophone; David Leon, alto saxophone; Tony Madruga, piano; Harley Basadre, guitar, and Jorge Roldan (honorable mention), alto saxophone.

In addition, Madruga received the Ella Fitzgerald Award given to the outstanding soloist of the entire competition.

For more Information about the Music Division in New World School of the Arts contact Jim Gasior at 305-237-3539.

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