Milwaukee Public Schools
Press Release

MPS instrumental jazz group wins prestigious national award

DownBeat magazine recognizes Jazz Lab at Milwaukee High School of the Arts; 3rd straight year a group from the high school has won

By - May 13th, 2016 07:14 am
JazJazz Lab at Milwaukee High School of the Arts. Photo courtesy of MPS.z Lab at Milwaukee High School of the Arts

Jazz Lab at Milwaukee High School of the Arts. Photo courtesy of MPS.

MILWAUKEE (May 13, 2016) – The Jazz Lab Combo at Milwaukee Public SchoolsMilwaukee High School of the Arts is one of just two student groups from around the country to win DownBeat magazine’s 2016 Performing Arts High School Outstanding Performances award.

The DownBeat awards are among the most prestigious for student musicians in the country.

The win marks the third straight year a group from Milwaukee High School of the Arts has been recognized by the magazine. In both 2014 and 2015, Milwaukee High School of the Arts’ Vocal Jazz Ensemble won DownBeat’s Outstanding Performances award for a performing arts high school jazz choir.

The combo includes: Ben Havens-Hansen on bass, Travis Drow on trumpet, Matthew Rotker-Lynn on guitar and Lester Thompson on drums.

Dr. Doug Syme, the MHSA director of jazz studies and arts department chair, called the award “a testament to the students’ hard work and deep respect for the music. The Downbeat student competition is done by blind audition and is worldwide.  What a tremendous legacy for lab 2016 to leave MHSA.  Congratulations to them, I could not be prouder.”

“We at ‘Arts’ are so proud of the accomplishments of Dr. Syme and the Jazz Lab,” MHSA Principal Barry Applewhite said. “Music tells a story that may have different endings, depending on the listener.  I believe the Jazz Lab’s story has a happy ending.”

MPS Superintendent Dr. Darienne Driver and the entire MPS family congratulate the group on this national recognition! Media interested in seeing or hearing the group should contact Tony Tagliavia, MPS media manager.

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