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Music students score nine Down Beat awards

June 1, 2005

KALAMAZOO--Music students at Western Michigan University hit another high note this year in Down Beat magazine's student awards competition.

WMU students brought home nine awards in Down Beat's 28th Annual Student Music Awards, the premiere student competition in jazz open to students throughout North America. WMU was second only to the University of Miami in the number of awards. The next closest university, the University of Texas, had three awards, while the only other university in Michigan to win an award, the University of Michigan, won one.

"To receive nine, prestigious Down Beat awards in a single year makes us delirious," says Tom Knific, WMU professor of music and director of the WMU Jazz Studies program. "This puts us second only to the University of Miami in all of North America. It is triple the number of our next closest competitor.

"This reflects on our talented and dedicated faculty. And, as we have stated all along, our best students are as good or better than those at any other university."

Results were announced in the magazine's June issue, now on newsstands. In addition to WMU's nine awards, two articles mentioned or were about events and ensembles at WMU, one of which touted the considerable and unique talents of members of the Kruziki Transatlantica Sextet. The extracurricular group, headed by WMU senior and saxophonist Aaron Kruziki, won two awards in the competition. The other article was about Bobby McFerrin's most-recent performance with Gold Company, WMU's award-winning vocal jazz ensemble, in February. In that article, McFerrin heaps praise on Gold Company and its director, Dr. Stephen Zegree, WMU professor of music, and notes how he always has fun getting together with the group. "I always enjoy it, coming by and hanging out," McFerrin says in the magazine. "Steve's bands and his groups are always fantastic. I appreciate their enthusiasm and their energy."

WMU's nine Down Beat awards spanned a wide variety of categories. The categories and winners were:

Jazz Instrumental Group, College Co-Winner--Kruziki Transatlantica Sextet

Jazz Big Band, College Outstanding Performances--WMU Jazz Orchestra

Jazz Studio Orchestra, College Outstanding Performances--The Chris Beckstrom Group

Classical Chamber Group, College Co-Winner--Kruziki Transatlantica Sextet

Classical Chamber Group, College Co-Winner--WMU Trombone Choir

Classical Orchestra, College Winner--WMU Symphony Orchestra

Blues/Pop/Rock Soloist, College Winner--Justin Avery (voice)

Blues/Pop/Rock Group, College Winner--Justin Avery Band

Jazz Arrangement, College Outstanding Performances--Logan Thomas ("Budo")

Media contact: Mark Schwerin, 269 387-8400, mark.schwerin@wmich.edu

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