Blair jazz program receives 13th Downbeat Magazine Student Music Award

The Blair Big Band has been honored with its 13th DownBeat Magazine Student Music Award.

The Blair School of Music jazz program has been honored with its 13th DownBeat Magazine Student Music Award in an announcement released today. The Blair Big Band is a 2024 winner in the Undergraduate College / Large Ensemble category, marking the eighth award for the group, to go with five previous individual honors.

“I am so proud of our students’ fantastic work this year,” said Blair Director of Jazz Studies Ryan Middagh. “As a school, we are always honored to be recognized by DownBeat Magazine for the excellence of our jazz program. A special thanks to our jazz faculty team, who work collaboratively to enhance our ensembles and the individual student experience.”

Ryan Middagh

With a diverse repertoire that includes classic big band standards, modern jazz compositions, and original works by its members, the Blair Big Band is one of the premier collegiate jazz ensembles in the country. The group was a top-four finalist at the prestigious 2023 Jack Rudin Jazz Championship in New York and has performed across the country and around the world. Blair jazz program members will travel to Colombia in June for a two-week educational and performance tour sponsored by the U.S. State Department.

The Blair jazz program has flourished under the direction of Middagh, who was appointed to the faculty in 2014. An innovative educator, composer, arranger, saxophonist, band leader, and clinician, Middagh has traveled the globe sharing his unique blend of talents and musical influences with audiences and music students. His leadership has helped to foster a culture of excellence and musical innovation within the band, inspiring its members to push the boundaries of jazz and explore new creative directions.

Blair School of Music will host the International Jazz Composers’ Symposium May 16-18, which will bring together hundreds of jazz composers, arrangers, educators, and industry executives for three days of concerts, lectures, and panel discussions. Evening headliner concerts will feature Grammy-honored stars Danilo Pérez, John Clayton with the Ryan Middagh Jazz Orchestra, and Anat Cohen.