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WMU students hit high notes at Detroit jazz festival

Oct. 1, 2007

KALAMAZOO--The Western Michigan University Jazz Studies Program won high accolades at the 28th Annual Detroit International Jazz Festival.

First, the program was honored with a prestigious invitation for the WMU Jazz Octet to perform. Then, two of its members won Outstanding Jazz Soloist awards. Finally, an incoming WMU freshman took home an Outstanding Jazz Soloist award while performing with his high school band.

Terrence Massey, a senior and trumpeter from Muskegon, Mich., and Brandon Drew, a senior and trombonist from Fort Wayne, Ind., won Outstanding Jazz Soloist honors in the college/university division, recognizing them for outstanding improvisational abilities. Both are students in WMU's acclaimed Jazz Studies Program and will receive a $400 scholarship from the Michigan chapter of the International Association of Jazz Educators.

A third WMU student, Henry Koperski, a WMU freshman and 2007 graduate of Northview High School in Grand Rapids, Mich., won one of two Outstanding Jazz Soloist awards in the high school division. The saxophonist will receive a $500 scholarship from the state chapter of the IAJE.

"These awards are personally gratifying for me in that Terrence and Brandon have been my jazz applied students as long as they have been here at WMU," says Dr. Scott Cowan, assistant professor of music. "Also, as the director of the WMU Jazz Octet, it is an honor to be invited to perform at the Detroit International Jazz Festival alongside other prestigious university ensembles like the Julliard Jazz Quintet."

The WMU Jazz Octet performed 42 minutes of music from memory. The recognition for the three students was announced from the main stage at the festival's conclusion on Sept. 3.

The invitation to play at the festival and the students' outstanding performance is further evidence of the quality of the WMU Jazz Studies Program and the caliber of its students, says Tom Knific, professor of music and the program's director.

"This is one of the nation's most important festivals, and the invitation alone is of great significance," Knific says. "I knew that the Jazz Octet would deliver at the highest level. Having two students win the collegiate awards and a third win in the high school division says everything about what we produce and what we deliver. This perpetuates our tradition as one of the finest schools in the world to study jazz."

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

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