The Cal State San Bernardino Jazz Vocal Ensemble won first place in the 4-year College Vocal category at the Reno Jazz Festival held April 26-28 at the University of Nevada, Reno.

The vocal ensemble, directed by professor Bradley Hampton and guitarist Kris Sveen, finished ahead of the University of the Pacific.

In addition, the CSUSB Jazz Band and Jazz Combo, along with the vocalists, each received superior ratings at the festival’s competition.

Vocalist Erick Valencia was awarded an Outstanding Performer Medal, and instrumentalists Dakota Daugherty and Sean Monsalves were awarded medals for Outstanding Jazz Improvisation.

“In this particular arena (jazz performance) CSUSB is now considered highly respectable by the jazz community on par with the other California State Universities offering major jazz programs of 100 or more enrolled students (two-three jazz ensembles, three-five combos, one-three vocal jazz ensembles),” said Robert Knop, professor of music and the interim chair of the CSUSB Department of Music. “This growth has gradually emerged but has especially matured in the last four years in all three ensemble areas. We finally broke through last year and are now part of the CSU jazz conversation.”

Knop added, “Kris Sveen and Bradley Hampton deserve special recognition for their conceptual teaching, understanding of the improvisation learning process, motivation skills, and especially rehearsal/teaching skills.”

The award-winning members of the CSUSB Jazz Vocal Ensemble are: Kaitlynn Albers, Justin Escamilla, Jocelyn Esparza, Felicia De La Isla, Kaylee De Leon, Janine Leslie (electric bass), Rigoberto Orozco, Nicole Perez, Daniel Saenz and Erick Valencia.

The Reno Jazz Festival is organized by the University of Nevada, Reno’s School of the Arts, and has taken place annually since 1962. In addition to the competition and the concerts performed by guests artists, drummer Dafnis Prieto and multi-talented musician and composer Peter Apfelbaum, the festival featured workshops and clinics taught by dozens of professional jazz artists for more than 9,000 jazz musicians from middle school through college.

The CSUSB Department of Music curriculum — with courses in electronic music, performance, world music, historical studies, music education and music theory — reflects the access modern musicians have to more kinds of music than ever before. The programs offered by the department provide students with career paths in classroom teaching, professional musician, industry professional, advanced degrees, or to simply enrich their education.

Visit the CSUSB Department of Music website for more information on its programs.