creativity, culture, community
The Bank of America Youth Jazz Band Competition took place on March 21 at the Georgia State University School of Music in Kopleff Hall. Competition was open to Georgia Department of Education accredited High Schools in all 28 metro Atlanta counties. Three bands won a scholarship for their music department and a chance to perform at this year’s Atlanta Jazz Festival.
The Atlanta Jazz Festival is committed to nurturing the next generation of jazz musicians,” says Camille Russell Love, Executive Director of the City of Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs. “Our annual Bank of America Youth Jazz Band Competition brought out talented young musicians who are proudly carrying on the tradition of jazz. Here are this year’s winners: 1st Place is Westlake High School Jazz Ensemble and they will receive $1000, 2nd Place goes to the Tri-Cities High School Jazz Band who will receive $750, and in 3rd Place is North Atlanta Center for the Arts Jazz Band who will receive $500.”
Dedicated music teachers and band directors are unsung heroes. They work tirelessly to inspire and educate our young people. Here are the band directors whose students won this year’s competition.
Cedric Young is the Director of the Westlake High School Jazz Ensemble. He believes today’s students are our hope for a better future, and that we must continue to invest in them. His career exemplifies his commitment to the next generation. He has been teaching for 26 years, five of them at Westlake.
“Winning this competition means a lot to our students,” said Young. “This gives them the momentum to achieve higher goals, not only in the pursuit of playing jazz, but in their academic studies as well.”
Aaron Johnson is the Associate Director of the Tri-Cities High School Jazz Band. He’s been teaching for nine years, seven of them at Tri-Cities. He is passionate about the importance of music being taught in schools.
“Music teaches students how to be good listeners,” explains Johnson. It instills patience and discipline. It also boosts their confidence and self-esteem. Learning music provides an understanding of other people and cultures different from you own, which is invaluable in today’s world.”
“Our students are overjoyed at winning the chance to play at the festival in Piedmont Park,” continues Johnson. “We will bring our A game and make sure those in attendance have a great experience!”
Tarik Rowland is the Director of the Tri-Cities High School Jazz Band. He has been teaching for 16 years, and for 10 years at Tri-Cities. He is dedicated to passing on his insights, knowledge and love of Jazz.
“As an Atlanta native, it is a privilege to be part of a great tradition like the Atlanta Jazz Festival,” states Rowland. “We are helping to preserve the rich music genre of Jazz that originated in America. This is thrilling for me and a wonderful opportunity for our students.”
Tri-Cities High School Jazz Band will perform on Saturday, May 23 at 12:30 pm on the Local Stage in Piedmont Park at the Atlanta Jazz Festival.
Adam Brooks is the Director of the North Atlanta Center for the Arts Jazz Band. He’s been teaching for 12 years, nine of them at North Atlanta. He believes that music and the arts help shape the character and the positive development of the whole child.
“We are fortunate to have a jazz band class that meets every day,” says Brooks. “I’m aware that is not the case in many schools. We do some unusual things in class, like we get students up dancing to teach them the essence of swing and to make them feel more confident.”
“Being a good jazz musician is not always about winning,” continues Brooks. “Sometimes it’s about upholding a tradition of excellence. It’s about camaraderie and fellowship. And it’s being part of something that pushes you to be the best you can be.”
North Atlanta Center for the Arts Jazz Band will perform on Saturday, May 23 at 1:30 pm on the International Stage in Piedmont Park at the Atlanta Jazz Festival.
Adjudicators for the Bank of America Youth Jazz Band Competition were: Dr. James Patterson, Director of Jazz Studies at Clark Atlanta University & Founder of the CAU Jazz Orchestra; Dr. Chip Crotts, Director of Jazz Studies at Georgia Institute of Technology; Sam Skelton, Director of Jazz Studies at Kennesaw State University; and serving as MC was Gordon Vernick, Associate Professor of Music and Coordinator of Jazz Studies at Georgia State University.
The 38th Annual Atlanta Jazz Festival is presented by the City of Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs. The festival includes Jazz performances throughout the Atlanta area during the entire month of May, culminating with three days of music in Piedmont Park over Memorial Day Weekend, May 22-24. For more information visit the festival web site at www.atlantafestivals.com.
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