Big Band Composition Competition and Gerald Wilson Award

2015 Gerald Wilson Award winner Matt Wong conducts "Against the Current" at the 58th Monterey Jazz Festival, September 20, 2015 with the Next Generation Jazz Orchestra. ©Monterey Jazz Festival / Cole Thompson.



Each year since 2005 at the Next Generation Jazz Festival, the Big Band Composition Competition is open to student composers currently enrolled in high school.

Compositions are judged by college-level music faculty, and the winning composer receives the Gerald Wilson Award, named in honor of the late legendary composer, arranger and trumpeter who was a friend of Monterey Jazz Festival for many years.

The winning composition is performed on the Jimmy Lyons Stage in the Arena at the annual Monterey Jazz Festival by the Festival's all-star student band, the Next Generation Jazz Orchestra, and the student composer is given the Gerald Wilson Award.

The deadline for the 2017 Composition Competition / Gerald Wilson Award was March 15. Stay Tuned for the winner!

2016 Big Band Composition Competition / Gerald Wilson Award: Luca Mendoza

Pianist Luca Mendoza, 17, is a junior at Crossroads School in Santa Monica, Calif. and studies jazz piano with Alan Pasqua, classical piano with Rina Dokshitsky. He plays in Lee Secard’s Colburn Jazz Workshop ensembles and Evan Avery’s Crossroads “A” Band, and is currently in the Los Angeles Philharmonic Composer Fellowship. Luca is the 2016 National YoungArts Finalist for Jazz Piano and Merit Jazz Composition Winner for "Just You, Just Me." Additionally, he is the winner of the 2016 Los Angeles Music Center Spotlight Award for Jazz Performance; received an Outstanding Soloist Award at Monterey’s 2016 Next Generation Jazz Festival; and four DownBeat Student Music Awards. He also was a participant in the Vail Jazz Workshop and Brubeck Institute Summer Jazz Colony, and has been a part of the Colburn Musical Encounters for five years, fostering music education throughout Los Angeles inner city schools. His other awards include first or honorable mentions in the Southwest Youth Music Festival and Glendale classical competitions as well as a solo award and first place in the Fullerton Jazz Festival. This is his first year in the Next Generation Jazz Orchestra.

Gerald Wilson Award Winners:

2016: Luca Mendoza, Omnibus
Crossroads School, Santa Monica, Calif.

2015: Matt Wong, Against the Current
Independence High School / San Francisco, Calif.

2014: Matt Wong, Prima Luce
Independence High School / San Francisco, Calif.

2013: Nathaniel Schwartz, Ninjas Can’t Catch You If You’re On Fire
Northgate High School / Walnut Creek, Calif.

2012: Christopher McCarthy, Something Small
Roosevelt High School / Seattle, Wash.

2011: Chase Morrin, Mumphis
Canyon Crest Academy / San Diego, Calif.

2010: John Sturm, Sounds of Dusk
Princeton High School / Princeton, N.J.
See the written composition.

2009: Andy Clausen, Fly
Roosevelt High School / Seattle, Wash.

2008: Sean Richey, 40 Days and 40 Nights
Buchanan High School / Clovis, Calif.

2007: Levi Saelua, Spectrum
Rio Americano High School / Sacramento, Calif.

2006: Kyle Athayde, By Candlelight
Acalanes High School / Lafayette, Calif.

2005: Adam Bravo, Perpendicular to Reality
Mission Viejo High School / Mission Viejo, Calif.