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West Hartford Students Named Finalists in Prestigious Jazz Music Competition

Members of the Mary Lou Williams Jazz Combo rehearse. Courtesy of Timothy Norton

Individual musicians from Hall and Conard – and the Hall Concert Jazz Band – will perform as finalists in New York City this weekend.

Combo leader and bassist Timothy Norton. Courtesy of Timothy Norton


Several West Hartford high school student musicians have been selected as finalists in the prestigious 16th annual Charles Mingus Festival & High School Competition, taking place this weekend in New York City. So has the entire widely acclaimed William H. Hall High School Concert Jazz Band.

Jeremy Baun, Chloe Madrak, and Pri Magavi of Hall High School, along with Catherine Zehr of Conard High School, comprise half the Mary Lou Williams Combo, an advanced level jazz band taught at Jazz at Lincoln Center. The combo, one of three selected from the entire country, is rounded out by four student-musicians from the tri-state area: Carter Bryan of Guilford, CT, Ellis Feder and Josh Quiddus of New York, and Israel Stahl of Brooklyn, NY. The ensemble is taught by another West Hartford native, Timothy Norton, a graduate of the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts and Conard High School, as well as Berklee College of Music and Manhattan School of Music. Norton is now a jazz bassist and composer based in New York and on the faculty of Jazz at Lincoln Center and Syracuse University.

The nationally renowned Hall High School Concert Jazz Band, led by Hall High’s director of bands James Antonucci, is one of three finalists in the festival’s Big Band category. Its members will face off against high school jazz bands from Newton, MA, and Raleigh, NC.

Mason Pia, a senior saxophone player from Conard High School, along with Zehr, will also participate in the “Specialized Big Band” category at the Mingus Festival with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Youth Orchestra.

At this national competition, held at the New School of Jazz and Contemporary Music, top high school students from across the country celebrate the music of legendary jazz bassist and composer Charles Mingus.

The annual event is presented by Let My Children Hear Music/The Charles Mingus Institute and by Dr. Keller Coker and The New School of Jazz, with support from Jazz Workshop, Inc. It is also coordinated by another West Hartford native, jazz vocalist Allegra Levy, who is the program administration manager at The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music. Many events and performances are free and open to the public. Further details of the festival, to be held Feb. 16-19, can be found at charlesmingus.org.

Courtesy image

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  • Great article. Note however that you forgot to mention that Mason Pia from Conard High school is also participating in the competition. He (along with the other four West Hartford kids already mentioned) is part of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Youth Orchestra (jazz big band) who are also competing in the “Specialized Big Band” category at the Mingus Festival.

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