March 13, 2003

More Information:
Eastman Office of Communications, 585-274-1050

ROCHESTER, NY — Formed just last fall, the Eastman Youth Jazz Ensemble has been selected as one of the top 15 bands from around the nation — and one of only two from New York State — in the Eighth Annual Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Competition and Festival, sponsored by Jazz at Lincoln Center. The ensemble, part of the Eastman School of Music’s Community Education Division (CED), now will compete for more than $11,000 in cash awards at the competition finals in New York City this May.

Directed by Howard Potter, Eastman’s new associate dean for community and continuing education and a percussionist himself, the Eastman Youth Jazz Ensemble features 21 high school student-musicians from 12 Rochester-area school districts and one Buffalo-area district. All study privately through Eastman’s CED.

“This is an incredible victory for this exceptional young band,” said Potter. “They’ve worked hard in a very short amount of time. To receive an honor like this says a lot about their abilities and potential.”

The Essentially Ellington Competition shares Duke Ellington compositions with high school jazz bands, encourages the study and performance of Ellington’s music, and fosters mentoring relationships between students and professional musicians. This year, six newly transcribed Ellington scores and educational materials were sent to more than 1,200 high school jazz bands, of which 133 — including Eastman’s Youth Jazz Ensemble — entered the competition by submitting a recording of three of the works.

As finalists, the group will travel to New York for a three-day festival (May 17-19) that includes workshops, rehearsals, a banquet dinner, and jam sessions with members of the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra (LCJO). In the two-part competition on Sunday (May 18) and Monday (May 19) in Avery Fisher Hall, a distinguished panel of judges — including Jazz at Lincoln Center Artistic Director Wynton Marsalis — will judge each band’s performance of three Ellington works. Later that evening, the top three bands will perform in concert alone and with Marsalis as soloist, followed by the LCJO performing an all-Ellington set. (Tickets to the concert are $20; they are available by phone at 212-721-6500 or online at www.jazzatlincolncenter.org.) Cash awards, which go toward enhancing the schools’ jazz programs, will be presented at the final concert.

In addition, Jazz at Lincoln Center will send a professional musician/clinician to Eastman and the other finalist schools in April to lead an intensive daylong workshop of rehearsals, lessons, and master classes.

“ This is an exciting time for these kids,” said Potter. “They have a lot to look forward to this spring.”

The members of the Eastman Youth Jazz Ensemble are:

Michael Kujawski, bass Rush-Henrietta High School Grade 12
Dave Goebel, drum set Rush-Henrietta High School Grade 11
Chris Potter, percussion/set Penfield High School Grade 10
Matthew L. Valerio, piano Gates-Chili High School Grade 11
Simon Fletcher, guitar Rush-Henrietta High School Grade 12
Christopher Creech Williamsville South High School Grade 12
Nick Finzer Hilton High School Grade 10
Tim Craig Gates-Chili High School Grade 9
Craig R. Sauers Greece Olympia High School Grade 11

Mark A. Dudek Brockport High School Grade 11
Michael Cottone Rush-Henrietta High School Grade 12
William Mehls Canandaigua Academy Grade 12
Andrew Kindle McQuaid Jesuit High School Grade 10
Reeds, vocals:
Katie Runde, clarinet Pittsford Sutherland High School Grade 12
Brian Luczkiewicz, tenor sax Williamsville South High School Grade 12
Nick Brust, alto sax Webster High School Grade 10
Anthony Rocco LiButti, alt.sax Greece Arcadia High School Grade 10
Andrew Murphy, tenor sax Fairport High School Grade 12
Tyler Gauldin, alto sax Hilton High School Grade 10
Jon Papas, baritone sax
& bass clarinet
Fairport High School Grade 12
Aaron Q. Johnson, vocals Rush-Henrietta High School Grade 12 (not on recording)

The following have assisted Potter in directing the ensemble: CED pianist Paul Hofmann; guest clinicians Bill Tiberio (band director, Fairport High School), Brian Zimmer (band director, Gates-Chili High School), and Bill Dobbins (conductor, Eastman Jazz Ensemble); as well as Eastman graduate and undergraduate students.


Note to editors: A photo of the Eastman Youth Jazz Ensemble will be available upon request after March 17.