Essentially Ellington bestows Honorable Mention upon New World School of the Arts Jazz Ensemble

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NWSA Jazz Ensemble received honorable mention in the
16th annual Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Competition
Miami--- 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  Tony Madrugaprestigious Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Competition & Festival. Receiving Honorable Mention (fourth place), under the direction of Dr. 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 them 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 during the rhythm section.

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 was also 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.  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,” noted Dr. Francis.

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, California.  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, Tony Madruga received the Ella Fitzgerald Award - given to the outstanding soloist of the entire competition.

New World School of the Arts was created by the Florida Legislature as a center of excellence in the performing and visual arts, is an educational partnership of Miami Dade County Public Schools, Miami Dade College and the University of Florida. 

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

Photo: Tony Madruga
Photographer: José Lopes-Moreno

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