Beloit Memorial High School Jazz Orchestra wins big at NYC jazz festival
BELOIT—The Beloit Memorial High School (BMHS) Jazz Orchestra attended the Essentially Ellington Jazz Festival in New York City from May 5 to 7 and came home with many awards.
More than 100 high school jazz bands across the nation competed to be among the 15 bands to attend the competition and festival hosted at the Lincoln Center in NYC. BMHS was asked to compete for the 10th time.
The orchestra won multiple awards including Outstanding Rhythm Section, Honorable Mention Saxophone Section, Outstanding Piano, Outstanding Drums, Outstanding Clarinet and Honorable Mention Trombone.
“It’s great to be back after three years. In 2020 they were supposed to go and it was changed to virtual,” said Chris Behrens, director of bands at BMHS. “This year’s group of seniors, it was their first trip out there for everyone. To be amongst that level of bands from across the country that play on such a high level, we are one of the few public schools left in that competition.”
Behrens adds that all the bands play once during the festival, and are evaluated and ranked by five judges. All students have a chance to work with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra and there’s also a jam session with students from other bands.
“The whole experience is more collaboration and support and rooting for each other,” Behrens said. “They’re there to celebrate the music of Duke Ellington and they all bring a unique touch to the music.”
BMHS has been a finalist since 2009, for 10 times in total.