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USU Jazz Orchestra Wins Prestigious Award

Thursday, May. 15, 2014

USU's Jazz Orchestra members

Members of USU's 2013-14 Jazz Orchestra, which was honored by "Downbeat Magazine" with a “DownBeat Magazine Student Music Award for Outstanding Performance by a Large Jazz Ensemble.”

The Department of Music in the Caine College of the Arts announced that the Utah State University Jazz Orchestra is the recipient of a 2014 DownBeat Magazine Student Music Award for Outstanding Performance by a Large Jazz Ensemble.

“This is fantastic news and a tremendous validation of the work of Jon Gudmundson and his students at USU,” said Craig Jessop, dean of the Caine College of the Arts. “This is the level of national recognition that USU and our music programs deserve.”

DownBeat is an American magazine, describing itself as devoted to “jazz, blues and beyond,” the last word indicating its expansion beyond the jazz realm which it covered exclusively in previous years. The publication was established in 1934 in Chicago, Illinois. It is named after the “downbeat” in music, also called “beat one” or the first beat of a musical measure.

The DownBeat Student Music Awards are considered the most prestigious awards in jazz education according to Jon Gudmundson, director of the USU Jazz Orchestra and head of the jazz studies program in the Caine College of the Arts.

Founded in 1976, hundreds of musicians, music educators and music industry professionals received their first international recognition as DownBeat Student Music Award winners.

“Being a DownBeat Student Music Award recipient is an accomplishment on any resume,” Gudmundson said. “Needless to say, we are thrilled to have received recognition on this level.”

At least six winners have gone on to appear on the cover of DownBeat as professional artists. Even before becoming professionals, the awards have helped young musicians garner more than $10 million in scholarship opportunities.

“A DownBeat Student Music Award is the highest honor there is for student, university and high school jazz musicians,” said Gudmundson. “We are honored to be chosen.”

The USU Jazz Orchestra is the premier jazz ensemble at USU. It is made up of five saxophones (alto, tenor and baritone), five trumpets, four trombones, piano, guitar, bass and drums. Auditions for the academic year are held the first week of school in the fall, but it is possible to challenge current members and replace them.

The USU Jazz Orchestra performs four times a year at USU in addition to occasional performances at festivals and high schools. For more, see the USU jazz website.

Related links:

USU Department of Music

USU Caine College of the Arts

Contact: Denise Albiston, 435-797-1500,

Writer: Whitney Schulte, 435-797-9203,

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