||Schofield Hall 218|
||Eau Claire, WI 54702-4004|
Jazz Ensemble I Wins
MAILED: April 29, 1998|
EAU CLAIRE Jazz Ensemble I has earned its second national award in three years.
The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire ensemble again took top honors as Best College Big Band in one of the most prestigious jazz contests in the country. Down Beat magazine, the premier jazz publication in the United States, announced the honor in a spring 1998 edition which featured the magazine's annual student music award winners.
"Receiving this prestigious honor two times in three years helps to confirm and validate the solidity of the jazz studies area," said Robert Baca, associate professor of music and director of Jazz Ensemble I. "For educational institutions it's similar to the Grammy it's the highest possible honor for us to receive because of the reputation of the magazine issuing it."
Baca said it's particularly rewarding because the ensemble from UW-Eau Claire was competing against much larger schools. Other schools in contention have as many as 12 jazz faculty members and offer master's and doctoral degrees in jazz studies, he said, noting that UW-Eau Claire's jazz studies area is made up of all undergraduate students and the university does not offer a jazz studies degree.
Participation in jazz ensembles is not required for any degree at UW-Eau Claire, Baca said. It is purely voluntary on the part of students, yet the university has four large jazz ensembles and 18 jazz combos, he said.
"It's like a Cinderella story," Baca said of winning the award. "I believe UW-Eau Claire students are able to compete with students in larger programs because of the well-rounded classical training they receive through private teaching lessons and participation in a variety of ensembles and the positive family atmosphere of students attending the music department. Excellence is second nature with our students."
Janice B. Wisner
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Updated: April 29, 1998