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L.A. school takes 3rd place in jazz contest

May 22, 2003|Don Heckman | Special to The Times

It wasn't until Wednesday morning -- after a flight home from New York and the first good night's sleep in nearly a week -- that the members of Los Angeles County High School for the Arts' jazz orchestra had a chance to fully savor their third-place finish Monday in Jazz at Lincoln Center's prestigious "Essentially Ellington" competition for high school bands

"It was four days of nonstop activity," said Dan Castro, music chairman of the school, which is on the Cal State L.A. campus. "The final events on Monday didn't finish until around midnight, and then we had to be at the airport for a 7 a.m. takeoff. So I'm not sure that everything we accomplished will actually sink in until everyone has a chance to catch up on their sleep."

The first thing the orchestra accomplished was placing among the 15 semifinalists, a notable achievement for the band's first try at the competition.

Finishing in the top three among more than 100 entrants -- the first Los Angeles school to do so since the competition was expanded from New York to the rest of the U.S. in 1999 -- was icing on the cake, said Castro.

In the "Essentially Ellington" competition, Jazz at Lincoln Center makes new transcriptions of six Duke Ellington pieces available to any interested high school program.

The three finalist orchestras -- the others were schools in Seattle and Miami -- performed on Monday at Avery Fisher Hall, with Jazz at Lincoln Center artistic director Wynton Marsalis joining each group for one number on trumpet.

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