The Vocal Jazz Ensemble at Milwaukee Public Schools’ Milwaukee High School of the Arts has won DownBeat Magazine’s national Student Music Award for Outstanding Performance by a performing arts high school jazz choir for the second consecutive year.
In its 38th year and considered one of the top student music competitions in the world, DownBeat’s Student Music Awards is a national contest that offers categories for middle school, high school and university music students and bands. The judges, who are professional musicians and educators, assess entrants based on a range of criteria: musicianship, creativity, improvisation, technique, sound quality and balance, excitement and authority. The awards were announced in the magazine’s June issue.
“To put this award in perspective, it’s tantamount to Sports Illustrated selecting the nation’s best high school football team,” said Raymond Roberts, MHSA Music Department Chair and director of the ensemble.
The MHSA Vocal Jazz Ensemble recorded an audition CD this fall and submitted three songs to the student contest at DownBeat. This ensemble has garnered many awards and recently performed at the American Choral Director’s Association National Conference in Salt Lake City.
Members of this year’s ensemble are:Johnathan Adair, Jaylynn Bryant, Horace Bynum, Gregory Carson , Briana Cook, Jaelyn Crawley, Yoel Martinez, Shampriel Morrise, Kimberly Perez, Norskuski Rivers, Emmanuell Rogers, Megan Schmidt, Silas Short and Erykah Williams.
MHSA offers students the chance to select an arts-focused major (creative writing, dance, theater, music or visual art) and receive at least two class hours of instruction per day focused on that major. Students commit to one area of the arts for all four of their years at the school. In addition to its focus on the arts, MHSA also provides an academically challenging educational program that includes Advanced Placement and honors courses. Students may select from more than 12 AP courses for both high school and college credit.