Finalists Announced for 17th Annual Essentially Ellington 2012

15 High School Jazz Band Finalists Announced for 17th Annual Essentially Ellington

High School Jazz Band Competition & Festival in New York City, May 4-6, 2012

  • Ballard High School, Seattle, WA
  • Beloit Memorial High School, Beloit, WI
  • Champaign Central High School, Champaign, IL
  • DeKalb High School, DeKalb, IL
  • Dillard Center for the Arts, Fort Lauderdale, FL
  • Eau Claire North High School, Eau Claire, WI
  • Esperanza High School, Anaheim, CA
  • Genoa City Union High School, Lake Geneva, WI
  • Lakota East High School, Liberty Township, OH
  • Medfield High School, Medfield, MA
  • Mountlake Terrace High School, Mountlake Terrace, WA
  • New World School of the Arts, Miami, FL
  • Newark Academy, Newark, NJ
  • Rio Americano High School, Sacramento, CA
  • Roosevelt High School, Seattle, WA

Winner of Community Band Category:
Tucson Jazz Institute, Tucson, AZ

Jazz at Lincoln Center announces the 15 finalist bands and one winning community band for its prestigious 17th Annual Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Competition & Festival. The bands will compete and participate in workshops, jam sessions, and more, during a three-day Competition & Festival in New York City. The three top-placing bands perform with Artistic Director of Jazz at Lincoln Center, Wynton Marsalis, as guest soloist, followed by a performance by the 15-piece Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra – whose members serve as mentors for the finalist bands throughout the weekend. The Festival’s finale is an awards ceremony honoring outstanding soloists, sections and the top three bands. The Competition & Festival is the culmination of the annual Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Program (EE), which also includes regional festivals, teaching resources, a summer Band Director Academy, monthly newsletters, and more.




Competition & Festival: May 4-6 at Frederick P. Rose Hall, home of Jazz at Lincoln Center.

Final Concert: May 6 at Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center, 7:30pm.

Free tickets for each Competition Part will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis, one hour before the start of each concert on May 5 and May 6.

Tickets for the Concert and Awards Ceremony are $20 or $25 and available now at the Avery Fisher Hall Box Office, the Jazz at Lincoln Center Box Office, by calling CenterCharge at 212-721-6500 or at

For more information including background, a schedule of events, photos, audio featuring SiriusXM’s programs on EE, and more, visit:

Throughout March and April, Jazz at Lincoln Center will send, free of charge, a professional musician to each of the 15 finalist and winning community band schools to lead an intensive day-long workshop of rehearsals, lessons, and master classes. The free clinics are part of the rich 16-year history of this unique music education program, which has reached more than 304,000 students in more than 4,000 high schools across all 50 U.S. states, Canada, Australia and American schools abroad. EE has produced and distributed more than 120,000 copies of 98 previously unavailable scores and 237 finalist bands have traveled to New York City to participate in the annual Competition & Festival.

  • This year Jazz at Lincoln Center distributed more than 10,200 newly transcribed scores, reference recordings and additional educational materials.
  • While the music of Duke Ellington continues to be central to Essentially Ellington, in 2008, Jazz at Lincoln Center expanded Essentially Ellington repertoire to include other seminal big band composers including Benny Carter and Mary Lou Williams. The 2011-12 Essentially Ellington season is the first time in the history of the program that repertoire composed by Dizzy Gillespie will be included in the program. Repertoire includes, Duke Ellington’s “Riding On a Blue Note,” “Sepia Panorama,” and from The Queen’s Suite, “Sunset and The Mocking Bird,” and Dizzy Gillespie’s, “Night in Tunisia,” “Oop Bop Sh’Bam,” and “Things To Come.”
  • This year 1,715 high schools in the United States, Canada, and American schools in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Germany, Japan, Luxembourg, Malaysia, New Zealand, People’s Republic of China, Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, and Zimbabwe received Essentially Ellington materials.
  • 111 bands entered the competition by submitting a recorded performance of three compositions.
  • The entries were evaluated in a blind screening by jazz education experts RONALD CARTER, STEVE FIDYK, SHERMAN IRBY, and LOREN SCHOENBERG.
  • 15 finalists and one community band were selected.

“It is extremely gratifying to see the results of the seeds we sowed 16 years ago when we started Essentially Ellington. The improvement in the quality of the bands down through the years attests to the artistic substance of Duke Ellington’s music. The enthusiasm and dedication of students, families, band directors, judges, and alumni testify to the timeless American values that define this competition and festival. I’m looking forward to hearing this year’s finalists; it is my favorite time of year.”
Wynton Marsalis, Artistic Director, Jazz at Lincoln Center

“As a former high school band director I have witnessed firsthand the power of Ellington’s music; it changes how young people view themselves in relation to our culture, their communities and each other. From the band directors across the country who tirelessly teach this music, to the parents who hear the hours of practicing at home, we are thrilled to provide a resource that brings together multiple generations of participants. As the finalists prepare for the weekend in New York, as we say here, swing away!”
Todd Stoll, Director of Education, Jazz at Lincoln Center

Founding leadership support for Essentially Ellington is provided by The Jack and Susan Rudin Educational and Scholarship Fund. Major support is provided by The Con Edison Community Partnership Fund, The Irene Diamond Fund, Gail and Alfred Engelberg, The Ella Fitzgerald Foundation, The Dexter Gordon Foundation in honor of Samuel Browne, The William Randolph Hearst Foundation, The Heckscher Foundation for Children, The Charles Evans Hughes Memorial Foundation, Nathan P. Jacobs Foundation, The Mericos Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust, Surdna Foundation, and the United States Department of Education.

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  1. We are Extremely proud of our Mountlake Terrace Jazz 1 band making it to EE this year! We would like to give a huge shout out to all our kids for their tireless rehearsals & performances to prepare for this great opportunity at Essentially Ellington. We couldn’t have done any of this without an amazing director, Mr Darin Faul, who puts in endless hours training & teaching our students!

    Sherrill on Apr 22nd, 2012 at 11:46pm

  2. We are so proud of our Esperanza High School students, who are participating in this year’s event. This is going to be an experience of a lifetime, one that every musician dreams of! Kudos to Band Director, Brad Davis for all of his hard work and dedication, and to the kids for all the countless hours of practice and commitment to their music. Support the arts in education, and your children will realize the amazing results.

    MaDoble on Mar 26th, 2012 at 10:31pm