Big Band Composition Competition and Gerald Wilson Award

(L-R) Paul Contos, 2013 Gerald Wilson Award winner Nathaniel Schwartz, and Anthony Wilson at the 56th Monterey Jazz Festival, 9.22.2013.

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 legendary composer, arranger and trumpeter who has been 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 and a cash prize.

Big Band Composition Competition / Gerald Wilson Award Winners:

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

Guitarist and composer Nate Schwartz, 18, is a graduate of Northgate High School in Walnut Creek, California. He began playing the trumpet in 7th grade and switched to jazz guitar at age 15. "Ninjas" is his first arrangement for big band. He plays in Northgate High School's Jazz Band I and Jazz Sextet; in the Diablo Valley College Night Band, and Jazzschool Advanced Jazz Workshop in Berkeley. He's been selected for honor jazz bands at the school district, county, and all-state levels, and was a finalist for the GRAMMY® Camp Jazz Session for the last two years. His musical career began when his family learned to play bluegrass music and formed a band in which Nate plays mandolin and sings. Nate will begin studying jazz composition at UCLA in the fall of 2013. Click to listen to the piece.

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

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

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

2009: Andy Clausen, Fly
Roosevelt High School / Seattle, WA

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

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

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

2005: Adam Bravo, Perpendicular Reality
Mission Viejo High School / Mission Viejo, CA

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