Playing at Lincoln Center: Ballard High, 2 other Seattle area schools

May 4, 2012

The most prestigious high school jazz band competition begins today in New York City.  And among the 15 finalists are three local competitors: Roosevelt, Mountlake Terrace and newcomer Ballard High School.

"I think we surprised a lot of people," says Ballard's jazz band director Michael James, about being a finalist in the Essentially Ellington jazz band competition. "But I knew if we were able to get into this festival it would put us on people's radar and say, 'Hey, what's going on at Ballard?'"

A total of 111 high school bands submitted a CD of three songs and an application for this year's competition. Seattle-area schools have consistently been among the competitors year after year. Roosevelt, which has won the competition three times, came in 2nd place last year. Mountlake Terrace came in 3rd last year.

James says Ballard's music program has been improving in recent years. Last year the school submitted an application to Ellington and came in the top 20. Only 15 schools and 1 community band are chosen by the judges, which includes Wynton Marsalis.

Ballard's goal this year was to make it into the top 15.

Results will be announced Sunday evening during a concert at Avery Fisher Hall.