Shenandoah Conservatory is proud to serve as a site for an Essentially Ellington Regional High School Band Festival in Winchester, Virginia, on Thursday, May 2, 2024. Director of Jazz & Commercial Music and Associate Professor of Trombone Matthew Niess will serve as director of this year’s event.
Through its annual Essentially Ellington program, Jazz at Lincoln Center (JALC) co-produces education-focused festivals designed to offer high school jazz bands of all levels the opportunity to perform the music of Duke Ellington and other seminal big band composers and arrangers. Participating bands receive professional feedback from JALC clinicians and other jazz professionals in their own backyard.
Performance Details for Participating Ensembles
All bands participating in the festival must join the Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Program (EE) through Jazz at Lincoln Center. By joining the free program, schools receive original transcriptions or arrangements by Duke Ellington, as well as recordings, rehearsal videos, teaching guides and other resources. Please visit academy.jazz.org/ee/.
High school bands will perform 3 selections. All bands participating in the festival must perform at least one selection from Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Essentially Ellington print music series. In addition to the charts received through their free membership with Essentially Ellington, bands may also elect to perform any of the previously published charts in the EE library (over 140 titles!). Charts are published by Warner Brothers and Alfred at academy.jazz.org/ee/complete-library-list/.
Each band will be given access to a warmup room for 20 minutes before their performance. Bands provide guitar/bass cables and pickup, snare drum, and cymbals for performance. A grand piano, guitar amp, bass amp, vibes, and drum set will be available on stage. Each warm-up room will have piano, guitar amp, bass amp, vibes and drum set.
Each band will be given 30 minutes for stage set-up, performance, and exit.
There will be a recognition of the following honors:
- 3 Outstanding Soloists
- Outstanding Brass
- Outstanding Saxes
- Outstanding Rhythm Section
2022 Essentially Ellington Awards
Zach Levin (Yorktown High School)
Lenny Klepic (Mountain View High School)
Cole Smith (Albermarle High School)
Luke Woods (Albermarle High School)
Best Saxophone Section
Albermarle High School
Best Trumpet Section
Albermarle High School
Best Trombone Section
Albermarle High School
Best Rhythm Section
Yorktown High School
- Riley Mulherkar (2020 Lincoln Center’s Emerging Artist Award Recipient)
- Scott Brown (Roosevelt High School, Essentially Ellington Award-winning Band Director)
- Darryl Brenzel (Shenandoah Conservatory)
- Eric Byrd (Shenandoah Conservatory)
- Craig Fraedrich (Shenandoah Conservatory)
- Luis Hernandez (Shenandoah Conservatory)
- Matthew Niess (Shenandoah Conservatory)
- Richard Whitehead (Shenandoah Conservatory)
- Alphonso Young (Shenandoah Conservatory)
2022 Featured Ensemble
The Shenandoah Conservatory Studio Big Band (formerly known as the Shenandoah Conservatory Jazz Ensemble) was founded in the late 1950s as one of the first collegiate jazz ensembles in the country and has a long tradition of excellence. The group has performed with numerous jazz legends, toured China, Japan, Ireland, Iceland, Germany, Spain, France, and Senegal, Africa, and won acclaim at multiple major jazz festivals.
Registration for the festival is $250 per ensemble. If a group must withdraw, a full refund will be provided only if another band on the waiting list is available to take the position of the withdrawing ensemble.
We will accept registrations until all 10 program slots are filled. This festival is for high school ensembles (no middle schools, but community ensembles of high school-aged students can participate).
Sample Schedule of Events
Musselman High School (Inwood, WV)
Michael Knepper, director
Yorktown High School (Arlington, VA)
Joseph Witkowski, director
Mountain View High School (Stafford, VA)
Zack Smith/Gene Welch, director
Jefferson High School (Shenandoah Junction, WV)
J.P. Lynch, director
Winston Churchill High School (Potomac, MD)
Ari Allal, director
Chantilly High School (Chantilly, VA)
Christopher Riechors, director
Shenandoah Conservatory’s Little Big Band (Winchester, VA)
Craig Fraedrich, director
Enloe High School (Raleigh, NC)
Robert Hunter, director
Albermarle High School (Charlottesville, VA)
Andrew LaPrade, director
Shenandoah Conservatory’s Studio Big Band (Winchester, VA)
Matthew Niess, director
The U.S. Army Blues (Ft. Myer, VA)
The U.S. Army Band “Pershing’s Own”
Schedule is subject to change.
About Essentially Ellington
The Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Program (EE) is unique among educational resources for high school jazz bands. Each year, Jazz at Lincoln Center transcribes, publishes, and distributes charts by Duke Ellington and other seminal big band composers and arrangers, along with additional educational materials to high school and college bands internationally. Beyond providing these charts, EE also supports its members throughout the school year with a variety of initiatives including teaching guides, the Essentially Ellington website, a student composition contest, and professional feedback of student performances of the charts. Schools that join the program are eligible for participation in noncompetitive regional festivals and also have the option to submit a recording for the national Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Competition & Festival held annually in New York City at Frederick P. Rose Hall, the home of Jazz at Lincoln Center. Fifteen bands are selected as finalists and, to prepare, each finalist band receives an in-school workshop in their community led by a professional musician. The Competition & Festival culminates in a three-day festival in May for the finalist bands, including workshops, rehearsals, jam sessions, and performances. The three top-placing bands perform an evening concert with Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra.
Where to Stay
Shenandoah University is located in Winchester, Virginia. The city is rich in history and offers a number of entertainment opportunities, community attractions, restaurants and more.
We’ve partnered with many local hotels that offer discounts to Shenandoah visitors, parents, students and alumni. Be sure to mention you are visiting Shenandoah University to get a discounted rate.