Princeton, Hopewell Valley Central High, Win Awards at 2016 Berklee Jazz Festival

The Princeton High School studio band took first place in the large ensemble competition at the Berklee High School Jazz Festival in Boston yesterday, winning the top award for the eighth time in 10 years.

The vocal ensemble for Princeton High, directed by Caitlyn
Bongiovi, won second place in the vocal ensemble competition, and Hopewell Valley Central High School’s vocal ensemble, directed by Randy White, took third place. Princeton High School’s small ensemble won third place.

Princeton High School vocalist Maisie Ryle won second place in the solo singer category. Joe Bell won an award for superior musicianship, and classmates Gabe Bar-Cohen and Ilan Eisenweig won an award for outstanding musicianship for Princeton High School. Gian Lombardo, a student at Hopewell Valley Central High School, also won an award for superior musicianship.

More than 200 high school jazz ensembles competed in the 48th annual festival, which was attended by more than 5,000 people.

The Berklee High School Jazz Festival competition is comprised of three competitive categories: large ensembles, combo ensembles, and vocal jazz ensembles. Within each category, classes are determined by school size.

Bongiovi, now in his 10th year as the Princeton High School studio band director, has led the high school to first-place finishes in 2007, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016.

He is also the director and owner of the Philadelphia Jazz Orchestra, an all-star big band featuring top collegiate jazz musicians in the Philadelphia and New Jersey region. The band is entering its 14th season and has toured Europe 8 times including performances at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland.

Bongiovi earned a bachelor’s degree in film scoring from Berklee College of Music in 1999 and a master’s degree in music education from The University Of The Arts in 2003.

The performances were recorded and are available for listening online.