25th annual Essential Ellington Festival goes virtual June 8-12


Usually, the Essentially Ellington Festival is held live at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City. But this year is far from usual. Due to COVID-19, the festival has moved online to celebrate its 25th anniversary, with a series of 12 events during the week of June 8-12.

The festival recognizes jazz students who have worked hard all year as they interact with Wynton Marsalis and members of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra.

Here’s the full event schedule. All times are in Eastern.

Monday, June 8

9 p.m.—Skain’s Domain with Essentially Ellington alumni, where Wynton Marsalis and Essentially Ellington alumni talk about how the event affected their lives

Tuesday, June 9

2 p.m.—25 Solos, 25 Years, featuring some of the best student solos throughout Essentially Ellington’s history

9 p.m.—At Home with EE Alumni, featuring newly recorded performances from the homes of notable Essentially Ellington alumni

Wednesday, June 10

2 p.m.—Student Composition Masterclass with Ted Nash, master saxophonist and composer for the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, and Leo Steinriede, the winner of the 2020 Student Composition and Arranging Contest

Thursday, June 11

noon—Q&A with Wynton Marsalis and Essentially Ellington Alumna Alexa Tarantino

3:15 p.m.—Cheer Tunnel, The famous cheer tunnel! Every Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Festival kicks off with Jazz at Lincoln Center staff, volunteers, and musicians cheering on each finalist band as they make their way through our halls and into Rose Theater for the first time.

3:30 p.m.—Q&A with Wynton Marsalis, where students from the finalist bands pick Wynton’s brain

5 p.m.—Virtual Jam Session, where students from each finalist band perform alongside the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra rhythm section

Friday, June 12

2 p.m.—Festival Performances Part I

6 p.m.—Festival Performances Part II

8:30 p.m.—Judges Announcement

9 p.m.—Awards Ceremony

The festival is free; donations are appreciated. Get more details about the festival and how to stream the sessions at the Jazz at Lincoln Center Essentially Ellington Virtual International Festival page.


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