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KU School of Music student earns top honor in DownBeat Student Music Awards

Monday, May 2, 2016

LAWRENCE – A University of Kansas School of Music student was honored in the 39th Annual DownBeat Student Music Awards, which each year recognizes the top collegiate jazz musicians in the country.

For the original work “Everybody is with Everybody Else,” Kai Ono, a junior piano and composition major from Irvine, California, received an Outstanding Composition award in the category of undergraduate composition for large ensemble. Ono will be recognized in DownBeat magazine’s June edition.

“It was a really great surprise to win,” Ono said.

This was the first piece Ono had ever written for a big band. With the KU Jazz Ensemble I, Ono premiered the work in December at The Blue Room, a jazz club in Kansas City, Missouri.  Earlier this month the piece was performed by the ensemble at the world-renowned Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City.

“It’s thrilling to see an undergraduate student have the opportunity to perform his original work in a world class venue such as Jazz at Lincoln Center,” said Dan Gailey, director of the jazz studies program. “We continue to be proud of the well-deserved recognition our students and jazz groups receive.”

The DownBeat Student Music Awards are considered the most prestigious awards in jazz education. Founded 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 23 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. 



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