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Tauranga Girls’ College Big Band has won the New Orleans Trophy for Best Big Band at the Port of Tauranga National Youth Jazz Band Competition held in Tauranga as part of the National Jazz Festival.
It is the first time in the contest’s 34-year history that the school has won the trophy and the first time in six years since a Tauranga band has been awarded the trophy. The 17-member band, led by Murray Mason, won $1000 prize money and the opportunity to open the New Zealand Music Awards Jazz Tui concert on Friday night playing alongside finalists Reuben Bradley, Tessa Quayle and Sumo Jazz.
Contest adjudicator Mike Booth says the Tauranga Girls’ College Big Band were well-rehearsed and had high musicianship values. “They were a pleasure to listen to.”
Tauranga Girls’ College won the contest ahead of four other bands from Whakatane, Tauranga, Wellington and Auckland. Organisers say entries were down this year due to the contest falling in the middle of the school holidays, but said Mr Booth “the standard was very very high and it was great to see the enthusiasm from the bands.”
Tauranga Girls’ College band leader Murray Mason said the school has been a part of the contest for the past nine years and have been working hard towards winning.
“It’s taken a while and certainly taken some work. We are surprised and delighted with the win.”
Band leader and trumpet player Holly Wright (16) said the win was exciting. “We did have a few challenges – our trombone section is very young and only been playing together for six months. They’ve come so far in such a short time. We were also short a couple of players as they are overseas for the holidays – they will be disappointed to have missed out.”
A gold award was also made to Whakatane’s Trident High School Big Band which has returned to the contest after a three-year break.
The Port of Tauranga National Youth Jazz Band Competition continues on Saturday with nine ensembles competing in the combo section and the Port of Tauranga Most Outstanding Jazz Band will be named. The Youth Jazz Competition is one of the special features of the National Jazz Festival and some of New Zealand’s best jazz musicians have been discovered through the contest including Nathan Haines, Tama Waipara, vocalist Hollie Smith and past Jazz Tui Award winner Charmaine Ford.
The Youth Jazz Competition Combos Section takes place from 9.30am on Saturday 23 April at Baycourt Theatre, Tauranga. Tickets are available from TicketDirect 0800 4TICKETS (484 253) or www.ticketdirect.co.nz. For more information on the National Jazz Festival visit www.jazz.org.nz