The Harlingen High School Jazz Ensemble, directed by Ronnie Rios, received a congratulatory visit from Harlingen Consolidated Independent School District and HHS administration on Tuesday, for their recognition as a National Winner in the 2014 Mark of Excellence/National Jazz Honors project.
Superintendent Dr. Art Cavazos entered the trophy-lined HHS band hall and greeted the ensemble commending them for their national recognition.
“This is a very stringent competition. Being recognized at the national level doesn’t just happen; you don’t wake up one day, compete, and get national recognition,” said Dr. Cavazos. “You have to work hard, you have to dedicate yourself, and your band director has to do the same thing. I want to congratulate you and thank you for putting us on the map. I also want to thank your director Ronnie Rios for all of the great work that he does. He is the mark of excellence, and he is the reason that we do so well at Harlingen High School with our band program.”
The Harlingen High School Jazz Ensemble was the only jazz group recognized at the national level as the best jazz high school band.
“I’m the proudest band director in the world because of this recognition, and it makes it easy when you have the world’s greatest students,” said Rios.
Each year, groups around the nation enter the national competition by submitting performance recordings to The Foundation for Music Education, in which the top quarter are selected as National Winners and the second quarter receive Commended Honors.
“We’re so proud and excited for this honor,” said Director of Music Education Dr. Sabrina Quintana. “The students and Mr. Rios have worked tirelessly to attain the superior performance level that they have achieved and of course Mr. Rios has many years of experience at Harlingen High School. It shows in the quality of everything that he does with his students.”
The Mark of Excellence consists the following categories: National Wind Band Honors, National Choral Honors, National Orchestra Honors, National Jazz Honors, and National Percussion Ensemble Honors.
The project has now received entries from thirty-five states, and this year 224 of the finest musical ensembles in the nation competed for the distinct honor. Offering unique competitive environment, the competition allows groups to compare their performance quality to that of other outstanding ensembles from across the country.
The Jazz Adjudicator for 2014 was Steve Wiest, University of North Texas.