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Plano ISD Band Selected For NYC Competition

This is the sixth time the Plano West’s jazz band was chosen to compete

Plano West Senior High School Jazz Band once again clinched a spot as a top 15 finalist in the prestigious annual Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Competition & Festival in New York City, marking their sixth appearance in the event's history.

According to Essentially Ellington, during the span of three days, students will immerse themselves in workshops, jam sessions, rehearsals and performances alongside 14 other skilled jazz bands representing various parts of the nation.

Plano West Senior High School, directed by Preston Pierce was the only Texas school selected to participate in the competition and festival. Chosen from a pool of over 100 high school jazz bands, these 15 finalists stood out by submitting recordings of three tunes from the Essentially Ellington library.

Pierce serves as the associate band director at Plano West Senior High School, overseeing the Wind Symphony, Jazz Orchestra, Jazz Band, Jazz Small Groups, providing support to the Marching Band and orchestrating the jazz program for the Plano West Cluster.

The Plano West Jazz Orchestra has earned the distinction of being a finalist in Jazz at Lincoln Center's Essentially Ellington Competition and Festival in New York City five times: in 2023, 2022, 2021, 2020 and 2017. 

“It’s hard to find words to express the amount of love and respect I have for these young musicians,” Pierce said in 2021. “To be selected as a finalist for the Essentially Ellington Competition and Festival is the highest honor a high-school-level jazz ensemble can achieve.”

Since 2020, the Plano West Jazz program has garnered an impressive total of 21 DownBeat Student Music Awards in the annual competitions. In 2022 and 2018, the Jazz Orchestra was honored with invitations to perform at the Jazz Education Network Conference (JEN). Notably, the Plano West Jazz Orchestra was also selected as the Invited High School Jazz Ensemble for the 2016 TMEA.

For a full list of finalists, visit the link here

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