Princeton, Hopewell Valley Central High School students shine at new national jazz festival competition

Gillian Scott Princeton
Gillian Scott, the winner of the vocal showcase at the National Jazz Festival, kicks off the award ceremony with the US Army Jazz Ambassadors. Photo courtesy of the National Jazz Festival.

Students from Princeton High School and Hopewell Valley Central High performed at the inaugural National Jazz Festival on Feb. 15 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia.

More than 1,200 high school and middle school jazz band students from 43 schools, 11 states, and Puerto Rico performed and attended educational clinics. The festival was created after the Berklee College of Music decided last year to suspend the annual Berklee High School Jazz Festival, which had been the largest student jazz competition in the country.

The Princeton Studio Band took second place in the large ensemble 1 category this year at the new festival, and student Irina Mukhametzhanova won an outstanding musician award. The Princeton jazz ensemble took first place in the large ensemble 2 category, with Matt Cincotta winning an award for outstanding musician. The Princeton jazz combo took third place in the small ensemble 1 category, with Charles Kolosvary winning an award for outstanding musician. The Princeton combo ensemble took first place, with Ethan Blazer winning an award for superior musician. Princeton Studio Vocals won second place in the vocal jazz category, with Ashley Chen winning an award for outstanding musician. Princeton swept the top awards for vocal jazz solo, with Gillian Scott taking first place, Molly Frain taking second place, and Ayah Mahana taking third place. Ashley Chen finished sixth. In the composition category, Sudhansh Kumar won third place for Princeton. The Princeton jazz bands are directed by Joe Bongiovi and Scott Grimaldi.

Hopewell Valley Central High School took first place in the vocal jazz a capella category. Priya Naphade received the judge’s choice award, and Genevieve Shaftel received an outstanding musician award. Hopewell also took first place in the “pop cappella” category. Alex Lehman-Borer received the judge’s choice award and the superior musician award. The Hopewell Valley jazz and vocals groups are directed by Randy White.

The Princeton High School jazz bands will perform at the Big Band Jazz Night and International Food Tasting at 7 p.m. March 13 in the high school cafeteria. Tickets are $10 (seniors and students $5, free with paying adult). All funds raised support the band program. For more information visit www.princetonjazz.org or call Amanda Kewley of the Princeton High School Band Parents Association at 609-933-6564.