Fort Lauderdale High School Band among top young musicians to compete in the 24th Annual Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Competition & Festival

     FORT LAUDERDALE, FL – Jazz at Lincoln Center today announced that Dillard Center for the Arts (DCA) is among 15 finalists who will compete in the 24th Annual Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Competition & Festival – the nation’s premier jazz education event – in New York City this May 9-11, 2019. The competition unites students from coast to coast, from diverse backgrounds to find harmony together while playing some of the most complex music ever written.

Dillard Center for the Arts was selected from a competitive pool of 112 jazz bands across the country after submitting recordings of three tunes performed from the Jazz at Lincoln Center library. On May 9-11, 2019, DCA Jazz Ensemble will join talented young music students from all walks of life to attend workshops and jam sessions. The weekend concludes with a concert and awards ceremony featuring the top three bands alongside the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis.

Essentially Ellington shows off America’s young people at their best. High school students from across this nation have worked tirelessly on the highest quality of our orchestral music. They’ve met the challenge of mastering vocal effects on horns, of improvising fresh, new individual ideas, and of swinging, which means embracing and nurturing the common ground,” said Wynton Marsalis, Managing and Artistic Director, Jazz at Lincoln Center. “In these divisive times, it’s important to teach and celebrate our most scared values: freedom of speech, empathetic listening, and constructive engagement with others. These kids have a lot to teach us. I’m looking forward to hearing them play, and to being instructed and inspired by them.”

Marsalis continues, “Duke Elllington envisioned the unlimited creative possibilities afforded to all of us by our way of life. This musician shared that vision and made it real. This is the banner under which we fight. It more enlightened and engaged America.”

Arts education has been a pillar of Jazz at Lincoln Center since it was founded over thirty years ago, with the Essentially Ellington competition serving as a programming cornerstone for 24.

The full list of 2019 Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Finalists includes:

Beloit Memorial High School (Beloit, WI)

Denver School of the Arts (Denver, CO)

Dillard Center for the Arts (Fort Lauderdale, FL)

Foxboro High School (Foxborough, MA)

Garfield High School (Seattle, WA)

Middleton High School (Middleton, WI)

Mount Si High School (Snoqualmie, WA)

Newark Academy (Livingston, NJ)

Rio Americano High School (Sacramento, CA)

Roosevelt High School (Seattle, WA)

San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts (San Diego, CA)

Sun Prairie High School (Sun Prairie, WI)

Tarpon Springs High School (Tarpon Springs, FL)

Philharmonic Association (Raleigh, NC)

William H. Hall High School (West Hartford, CT)

In addition to the top 15 high school jazz bands, Jazz at Lincoln Center announced the winner of the 2019 Essentially Ellington Dr. J. Douglas White Student Composition and Arranging Contest. This year, the prestigious honor goes to Miles Lennox, Dillard Center for the Arts (Fort Lauderdale, FL), an alumnus of Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Summer Jazz Academy program and the Essentially Ellington Competition and Festival where he won Outstanding Soloist for piano. Miles will have his composition recorded by the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, as well as receive a $1,000 cash prize, a composition lesson with Ted Nash, GRAMMY award winning musician and longtime member of the Jazz at Lincoln Center, and a trip to New York City to observe the recording session and the Essentially Ellington Competition & Festival.

The annual Competition & Festival marks the culmination of the annual Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Program, which includes non-regional festivals around the country, free transcriptions of original Duke Ellington recordings, additional teaching resources, free adjudication and more. More than 5,300 high school bands across the country participate in the program.

Festival events, including the final concert featuring the three top-placing bands and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, will be webcast live on

For more information including background, history, photos, and audio recordings of the Essentially Ellington repertoire, and more, visit:

The Essentially Ellington Competition & Festival is media-accessible via Jazz at Lincoln Center social media on Facebook, Twitter @EssEllington, Instagram @jazzdotorg, and Tumblr.


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    Carma Lynn Henry Westside Gazette Newspaper 545 N.W. 7th Terrace, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33311 Office: (954) 525-1489 Fax: (954) 525-1861

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