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Foxborough High School Jazz Combo Heads to NYC for Annual Charles Mingus Festival

The Foxborough High School Jazz Combo will spend the weekend in New York City for the annual Charles Mingus Festival.

Students of the Foxborough High School Jazz Combo got an early start to February vacation Friday as the group of musicians arrived in New York City for the 5th annual Charles Mingus High School Festival & Competition.

The festival, produced by Sue Mingus, The Charles Mingus Institute, Justin DiCioccio and the Manhattan School of Music, takes place from Feb. 15-18 in NYC.

“This year’s festival will include a film showcase, student jams, a full day of instrumental clinics exploring the music of Charles Mingus, three nights of performances by the Mingus Big Band at Jazz Standard, and the nationwide Competition showcasing young jazz talent from high schools across the country,” according to the Charles Mingus Festival & Competition’s website.

Foxborough High School’s Jazz Combo will perform on the Mingus stage at the Manhattan School of Music on Sunday, Feb. 17 from 10:30 to 11 a.m.

One full tuition scholarship to the Manhattan School of Music Jazz Arts Program will be awarded in the name of Charles Mingus, to be announced April 1st, based on application, acceptance, and performance. Participants at the Mingus High School Competition are eligible.

Charles Mingus founded the Jazz Workshop that exposed young composers to audiences and was a jazz composer in the 1940s and 50s. To read more about the Charles Mingus High School Festival & Competition, click here.

The FHS Jazz Ensemble has established itself as one of the premiere high school jazz bands in New England over the past 23 years, according to the Foxborough High School website.

“The group has received gold medals in Massachusetts jazz band festivals for 22 years,” the website says.

The ensemble, directed by Stephen C. Massey, with help from assistant director George Murphy, has finished first at the University of New Hampshire Jazz Festival for 14 years and has performed at International Music Festivals in Montreal, Toronto, Washington DC, Williamsburg, Philadelphia, New York, and Virginia Beach.

The Jazz Ensemble has consistently received gold medals and first place awards for their performances. In April of 1992 the Jazz Ensemble traveled to England to participate in the Harrogate International Youth Music Festival.

In January of 1994 the band was invited to perform at the International Jazz Educator's Annual Convention held in Boston. In July of 1995 the band was invited to perform at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Montreux Switzerland. The 1997, 1998, and 1999, 2000, 2001, and 2002 bands were selected via audition tape to participate in the finals of the Essentially Ellington Festival at Lincoln Center in New York City. The FHS group finished first and second, fifth, fourth and fifth respectively, and had the opportunity to perform in the evening concert with Wynton Marsalis as guest soloist, according to the website.

In the spring of 1998 the band performed the Sacred Concert Music of Duke Ellington with the Newton North Choir directed by Richard Travers. The performances included a showcase at the Massachusetts Music Educators Concert in March and a combined performance with the Ken Hadley Band and professional vocal soloists at the Emmanuel Church in Boston in June, 1998.

The Boston Globe listed the Sacred concert performance as one of the top 10 jazz events of the year in Boston. The 2000 Band toured England and Scotland for 10 days. The 2001 Jazz Band commissioned a work by Iyn Inserto as part of a national composer's alliance. This work was premiered at the FHS Jazz Festival on May 9, 2001.

In addition to these featured and adjudicated performances, the group has maintained an extremely active performance schedule of 20-25 performances per school year, featuring a number of distinguished guest artists including: Ernie Watts, Alan Dawson, John Fedchock, Mike Monaghan, Jon Faddis, Jerry Bergonzi, Phil Wilson, Jeff Stout, Cecelia Smith, Andy MaGee, Dick Johnson, Grey Sargent, Ted Casher, Kim Richmond, Jeff Holmes, Clay Jenkins, Herb Pomeroy, Dave Pietro, Tiger Okoshi, Wycliffe Gordon, Bobby Shew, Victor Goines, Greg Hopkins and vocalists Candy Stout and Rebecca Parris.

Every spring for the past five years, the band has performed at Flanagan's Jazz club with the Ken Hadley Big Band. The Jazz Ensemble has recorded three record albums and three CDs, and performed for a variety of University and Music Education Seminars.

Alumnae have gone on to perform in distinguished college jazz bands all over the country, including Eastman, Miami, Ohio State, UMass, Univ of New Hampshire, New England Conservatory, Berklee, MIT, Manhattan etc.

“Some of our high school students have studied arranging, and numerous student compositions and arrangements have been performed over the years,” The website says. “The Jazz curriculum at FHS includes two jazz bands, a jazz choir, three jazz combos, and improvisation classes.”

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