WMU snares third most DownBeat awards in the world

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Downbeat magazine

KALAMAZOO--Western Michigan University music students are stepping to a familiar beat, winning six awards from DownBeat magazine in its annual student music competition, third most of any institution worldwide and substantially more than any other school in Michigan.

WMU students took top honors in a wide range of categories, making the achievement especially gratifying, says Tom Knific, WMU professor of music and director of the Jazz Studies Program. The competition also is becoming more international in stature, which gives the WMU wins even more prestige.

"In a show of depth of field, we received awards in five different categories," Knific says. "And the international aspect of this competition is particularly notable now. The Graz Austria Institute won four awards. It is a wonderful program. And programs in Israel and Japan have taken awards for the first time."

Knific noted that The Julliard School won just one award, as did the University of Michigan and Michigan State University.

The results are listed in the June issue. WMU honorees this year are:

  • Gold Company Sextet, Vocal Jazz Group, Graduate College Winner, Steve Zegree, director
  • Gold Company, Large Vocal Jazz Ensemble, Undergraduate College Winner, Steve Zegree, director
  • Melissa Taddie, of Strongsville, Ohio, Classical Soloist (violin), Undergraduate College Winner, Renata Artman Knific, professor
  • Matthew Landon, of Burlington, Iowa, Blues/Pop/Rock Soloist (guitar), Undergraduate College Winner, Tom Knific, professor
  • Desolation Row, Blues/Pop/Rock Group, Undergraduate College Outstanding Performance, Tom Knific, director
  • Goodnight Mr. Max, Blues/Pop/Rock Group, Undergraduate College Outstanding Performance, David Little, professor.