Jazz students continue winning streak in DownBeat competition

contact: Jeanne Baron
| WMU News

A scan of the cover of DownBeat magazine's June 2018 issue, which contains the results of the 41st annual Student Music Awards.KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Western Michigan University jazz studies students and their instructors are upbeat after again earning multiple wins in DownBeat magazine's 41st annual Student Music Awards.

In what is regarded as the most comprehensive competition for collegiate jazz programs, WMU students earned two awards, placing among the top 10 finishers in the international music competition. No other Michigan universities brought home an award.

The two wins meant WMU tied with many major institutions for the most awards, including the Oberlin Conservatory, Manhattan School of Music, New York University and the New England Conservatory.

Best metric for jazz programs

The DownBeat awards continue to be the most thorough and publicized metric for jazz programs across the globe, with the competition going international more than 10 years ago.

"WMU's jazz studies program has been earning awards in DownBeat's Student Music Awards for more than 25 consecutive years, and multiple awards for two decades," says Tom Knific, WMU professor of music and director of the University's jazz studies program. "Our institutional historic total is nearly 170. We're especially proud of this year's winners, as they were also among our four winners in last year's competition."

WMU award winners

  • Lushh; Blues/Pop/Rock Group; Graduate College Winner; ensemble members Eddie Codrington, Matthew J. Epperson, Madison George, Grayson Nye and Andrew Saliba with Yakiv Tsvietinskyi; professor Keith Hall.
  • Andrew Saliba—"Silent Minority"; Original Composition-Small Ensemble; Undergraduate College Outstanding Compositions; professor Andrew Rathbun.

WMU alumni honored

Several of this year's winning submissions from other schools came from students taught by WMU alumni who have gone on to obtain positions at some of the most prestigious music institutions in the country.

They include Christine Helferich Guter at the University of California Long Beach, who also received the 2018 DownBeat Magazine Jazz Education Achievement Award.

Also helping to capture awards for their schools are the following WMU alumni: Jennifer Barnes at the University of North Texas, Quincy Davis at the University of North Texas, Jeremy Fox at Indiana University, Lyman Medeiros at the Musicians Institute in Los Angeles and Kate Reid at the University of Miami.

Learn more about WMU's jazz studies program.

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