Winners include Incoming and Current Students and Awards from Programs run by NEC Alumni
New England Conservatory announces 13 winners from the 37th Annual DownBeat Student Music Awards. The awards, considered one of the top student music competitions in the world, feature categories for junior high, high school and university music students and bands.
The 2014 DownBeat Student Music Awards, published in the June issue of DownBeat Magazine, include awards to two incoming NEC student vocalists. Melinda Rodriguez, who won in the Vocal Jazz Soloist category, will be entering the Bachelor of Music program this fall. Carolyn Furniss, who won in the Blues/Pop/Rock Soloist category for the appropriately titled “Where to Go,” will be entering the Master of Music program this fall.
Also winning in the Blues/Pop/Rock Soloist category is current NEC student vocalist Laila Smith, who is entering her 2nd year of the NEC/Harvard dual degree program. 2013 NEC Preparatory School alumnus James Fernando, who was a pianist in the NEC Youth Jazz Orchestra, won in the Jazz Arrangement Category.
Thirteen awards went to students in programs run by NEC alumni including Oscar Perez '99, who teaches at Spring School, West Orange NJ; Bart Marantz '77 M.M., who teaches at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, Dallas TX; Rick Di Muzio '01 D.M.A. (with Terri Lyne Carrington), who teaches at Berklee College of Music; Michael Zilber '82 B.M., who teaches at the Jazzschool, Berkeley CA; Michael McLaughlin '09 D.M.A., teacher of home-schooled student Claire Dickson in Medford MA; Dr. Art LaPierre '93, who teaches at American River College, Carmichael CA; Aubrey Johnson '09 M.M., who teaches at Berklee College of Music; Sarah Cline ‘83 who teaches at Berkeley High School, Berkeley CA; and Andrew Rathbun '94 M.M., who teaches at Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo MI.
“I’m always thrilled when our students receive the recognition that they deserve,” says Ken Schaphorst, Chair of NEC’s Jazz Studies department. “I’m also very happy that this year’s DownBeat awards recognize Laila Smith, one of a group of extremely talented young musicians enrolled in the joint NEC/Harvard program.”
As part of the DownBeat Student Music Awards competition, students record their music on a CD and submit it for judging by professional musicians and educators from across the country. Judging criteria are based on musicianship, creativity, improvisation, technique, sound quality and balance, excitement and authority.
A more detailed list of NEC awards is below.
Awards to incoming Fall 2014 NEC College students:
Melinda Rodriguez, vocalist - entering B.M. program at NEC Vocal Jazz Soloist: Performing Arts High School Winner
Carolyn Furniss, vocalist - entering M.M. program at NEC Blues/Pop/Rock Soloist: Undergraduate College Outstanding Performances Original Composition, Small Ensemble: Undergraduate College Outstanding Performances - for Where to Go"
Awards to currently enrolled NEC students/alumni:
Laila Smith, vocalist - entering 2nd year of Harvard/NEC dual-degree program Blues/Pop/Rock Soloist: Undergraduate College Outstanding Performances
James Fernando '13 Prep, former pianist for NEC Youth Jazz Orchestra Jazz Arrangement: High School Outstanding Performances - All the Things You Are"
Awards from programs run by NEC Alumni:
Oscar Perez '99, Spring School, West Orange NJ Jazz Soloist: Junior High School Winner - Esteban Castro, piano Original Composition - Small Ensemble: Junior High School Winner - Esteban Castro, Lies You Left Behind" ("Mentiras que Olvidaste")
Bart Marantz '77 M.M., Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, Dallas TX Small Jazz Combo: Performing Arts HS Outstanding Performances - BTW Jazz Combo I '13 Blues/Pop/Rock Soloist: Performing Arts HS Winners - Mike Mitchell, drums Blues/Pop/Rock Soloist: Performing Arts HS Winners - Matthew Babineaux, tenor saxophone Blues/Pop/Rock Group: Performing Arts HS Winner - BTW MIDI Ensemble '13
Rick Di Muzio '01 D.M.A. (with Terri Lyne Carrington), Berklee College of Music Small Jazz Combo: Honors Ensemble Winner - Berklee Jazz Workshop Shades
Michael Zilber '82 B.M., Jazzschool, Berkeley CA Small Jazz Combo: Honors Ensemble Outstanding Performances - Advanced Jazz Workshop I Original Composition - Small Ensemble: Performing Arts HS Winners - Matt Wong, Against the Current"
Michael McLaughlin '09 D.M.A., teacher of home-schooled student in Medford MA Vocal Jazz Soloist: High School Winner - Claire Dickson
Dr. Art LaPierre '93, American River College, Carmichael CA Vocal Jazz Soloist: Undergraduate College Outstanding Performances - Megan Ugarte
Aubrey Johnson '09 M.M., Berklee College of Music Vocal Jazz Soloist: Undergraduate College Outstanding Performances - Erin Bentlage
Sarah Cline, Berkeley High School, Berkeley CA Original Composition - Small Ensemble: High School Outstanding Performances - Max Schwartz, Speranza"
Andrew Rathbun '94 M.M., Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo MI Original Composition - Small Ensemble: Undergraduate College Outstanding Performances - Nich Mueller, Mythic"
NEC’s Jazz Studies Department was the first fully accredited jazz studies program at a music conservatory. The brainchild of Gunther Schuller, who moved quickly to incorporate jazz into the curriculum when he became President of the Conservatory in 1967, the Jazz Studies faculty has included six MacArthur genius" grant recipients (three currently teaching) and four NEA Jazz Masters, and alumni that reads like a who’s who of jazz. Now in its 44th year, the program has spawned numerous Grammy winning composers and performers. As Mike West writes in JazzTimes: “NEC’s jazz studies department is among the most acclaimed and successful in the world; so says the roster of visionary artists that have comprised both its faculty and alumni.” The program currently has 114 students; 67 undergraduate and 47 graduate students from 12 countries.