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KU Jazz Studies Program earns honors in DownBeat Student Music Awards

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

LAWRENCE, KS – The KU Jazz Studies Program and its students were awarded top honors in the 40th Annual DownBeat Student Music Awards. 

The KU Jazz Ensemble I, directed by Dan Gailey, was recognized with the Graduate College Outstanding Performances honor in the category for large jazz ensembles.

DownBeat also recognized the work of Brock Chart, a music composition graduate student from Salina. For his composition “Down to the Wire,” Chart was awarded the Graduate College Outstanding Compositions honor in the category for original compositions for large ensembles.

“The DownBeat awards have long been a benchmark of excellence for collegiate jazz studies programs. Our frequent citations in these awards are a testament to the talent and hard work of our students, along with the exceptional teaching of our studio and composition faculty in the KU School of Music,” said Gailey, director of the KU Jazz Studies Program. 

This has been an award-winning month for the KU Jazz Ensemble I. Earlier this month, the group was selected as one of six big band jazz ensembles to perform at the 47th Annual Next Generation Festival, which draws the top student musicians from across the country. The festival is presented by the Monterey Jazz Festival. A few days later, the group performed in front of 2,000 people at Iowa State University as part of the school’s 2017 Jazz Championships, one of the top high school jazz events in the country.

Students in the DownBeat award-winning Jazz Ensemble I include: Zak Pischnotte, Omaha, Nebraska; Robbie Harvey, Maplewood, New Jersey; Eric Oatts, Johnston, Iowa; Aaron Barrett, Abilene; David Berrios, Lakewood, New Jersey; Michael Raehpour, Andover; Erik Mahon, Elk River, Minnesota; Daniel Gerona, McKinney, Texas; Guangyu Dong, Beijing, China; Jong Ho Kim, Seoul, South Korea; Mark Sweeney, Bangor, Maine; Fern Stevermer, Fulton, Missouri; Jennifer Shinska, New Baltimore, Michigan; Grant Morgan, Shawnee; Peter Marten, Stilwell; Kai Ono, Irvine, California; Murphy Smith, Westwood and Ryan Lucas, Overland Park.

The DownBeat Student Music Awards are considered the most prestigious awards in jazz education. Since its founding in 1976, hundreds of musicians, music educators and music industry professionals received their first international recognition as DownBeat Student Music Award winners.

Under Gailey’s leadership, the KU Jazz Studies Program has received 25 DownBeat Student Music Awards since 1992. One of the world’s leading jazz and contemporary music publications, DownBeat presents its Student Music Awards annually. Students and educators nominate themselves in an open call for recorded performances and applications. Winners are selected from more than 1,000 entries.

The KU Jazz Ensemble I will give its final performance of the year on May 3 in “Palos Nuevos: The Jazz Flamenco Project,” a collaboration with the KU Dance Department. The free concert will be at 7:30 p.m. at the Lied Center of Kansas.

School of Music Calendar
Music students present hundreds of public concerts every year
Students perform in KU choirs, concert bands, pep bands, ensembles, symphony orchestra, and jazz combos
The school owns one of the greatest jazz record collections in the world
KU Wind Ensemble performed the world premiere of the symphony "In the Shadow of No Towers" at Carnegie Hall
One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
44 nationally ranked graduate programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.