Westbrook jazz musicians received six awards at the Berklee College of Music Jazz Festival in Boston last month, and the groups reaped a few partial scholarships to the college’s summer program, too.

A group of 106 students, parents and friends from Westbrook traveled to Boston the morning of Jan. 31. Three Westbrook groups involving 45 students from the high school music department participated.

Jazz Ensemble 2, under the direction of Kyle Smith, performed at the festival for the first time. Alto saxophonist Emily Olmstead was a featured soloist and received a Judge’s Choice award from the faculty at Berklee.

Westbrook combo “Kinda Blue,” directed by David Wells and including members Nate Gowen on drums, Molly Ridley on piano, Ron Ho on tenor sax and Vinnie Aceto on bass, placed third in Class C. Ridley received the Judge’s Choice award for her performance with the combo.

Jazz Ensemble 1, directed by Phil Rich, has been performing at the Berklee Jazz Festival for 25 years. The group has received numerous awards and this year was no exception. The band also placed third in Class V, and Ron Ho received the Judge’s Choice award for his performance with the band and also received an Outstanding Musicianship Award, which is given to only three students in the entire division.

For these honors, Westbrook received five 25-percent-tuition scholarships to the Berklee Summer Music program for students who want to learn more about jazz and improvisation.

This was Berklee’s 41st annual jazz festival for high school students. More than 2,500 students performed.

Jazz bands, combos, and choirs from 13 states played throughout the Hynes Convention Center in Boston to receive scores and comments from the college faculty.

In addition to performing, participants had the opportunity to listen to professional musicians like Greg Bissonnette, John Blackwell, Delfayo Marsalis, Jason Marsalis and Terri Lyne Carrington.

Jazz musicians bring home honors


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