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.



Apply to the Big Band Composition Competition

The deadline for video auditions is Sunday, March 25, 2018.

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.

2017 Big Band Composition Competition / Gerald Wilson Award: Luca Mendoza

Luca Mendoza, 18, is a classical and jazz pianist and composer. Luca is the 2016 National YoungArts Foundation Finalist for Jazz Piano, a 2015/2016 YoungArts Merit Winner for Jazz Composition, and a LA Music Center Spotlight Grand Prize Finalist.

As a Los Angeles Philharmonic Composer Fellow, he has participated in workshops with top-notch composers and individual talks with members of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. With the program, his compositions have been performed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Calder Quartet and the Los Angeles Percussion Quartet, as well as members of the Los Angeles Master Chorale and ICE.

A two-time member of the Monterey Next Generation Jazz Orchestra, he has received two Monterey Next Generation Jazz Festival Outstanding Solo Awards as well as the Gerald Wilson Award for composition in 2016 and 2017.

He is the second "Triple Crown" winner in MJF history: A NGJF High School Division Winner, a Gerald Wilson Award winner, and NGJO member, all in the same year.

He has received seven DownBeat Magazine Student Music Awards (in combo composition, large ensemble composition, and combo performance), a 2016 Herb Alpert ASCAP award, and was a finalist in the 2017 Jazz Education Network Composer Showcase. He has also been accepted into the 2017 NARAS Grammy Band, the 2014 and 2015 Brubeck Institute Summer Jazz Colonies, and the 2015 Vail Jazz Workshop. 

Luca will be majoring in Classical Composition at the University of Southern California in the fall.

Gerald Wilson Award Winners:

2017: Luca Mendoza, Chicken Bones
Crossroads School, Santa Monica, Calif.

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.