Jazz Project Winners

There has been excitement in the air once again around our amazing jazz performers! You may remember back in April that two of Sancta Maria College jazz combos won golds in the National Youth Jazz Competition as part of the Tauranga Jazz Festival. Well, it seems that their winning streak has continued as they have received the title of Best Big Band at the Wellington Jazz Project on 10th June! In addition, the following students received top individual awards – Andrew Choi (Best Guitarist), Jenna Aspeling (Best Saxophonist), and Kevin Zeng (Best Big Band Drummer). A huge congratulations to everyone who performed at this event as part of the Sancta Maria College Big Band as well as the three combos The Fantails, The Keas and The Kererus.

The journey towards this top success began seven years ago when newly qualified teacher Thomas Cho started selecting talented music students to be part of jazz combos and in The Big Band. These students who were only in Year 7 then, have consistently maintained their focus on rehearsing, performing and encouraging one another to become the accomplished performers they are today.

Since 2014, Mr Cho has developed a full jazz programme at Sancta Maria College which boasts two Big Bands and a jazz orchestra, as well as multiple jazz combinations. You can often find him working with students at after-school practices with the help of tutors Kathleen Tomacruz and Ben Frater and student Minju Kim, who is the jazz orchestra director. Mr Cho says, ‘”It takes a lot of hard work and dedication, but the students love jazz and it’s a really close group.” He says he is already so proud of them.

For secondary schools there are two major competitions for jazz musicians. These are the Auckland Jazz Competition and KBB Music Festival, which both take place in August. Both of these competitions receive a high calibre of orchestras, jazz combos and Big Bands from secondary schools all over New Zealand. In recent years Sancta Maria College has excelled at both of these competitions.

KBB Music Festival

2016      Silver award – Big Band

2017      Silver award – Big Band

2018      Silver award – Big Band

2019      Gold award – Big Band/ Gala Concert Invitee


Auckland Jazz Competition

2016      Silver award – Senior Jazz Combo, Bronze award – Junior Jazz Combo

2017      Silver award – Senior Jazz Combo, Bronze awards x 3 – Junior Jazz Combos

2018      Silver award – Big Band, Silver award – Senior Jazz Combo, Bronze awards x 3 – combos

2019      3 x Gold and Finalist awards – Big Band, Midnight Quartet (Combo), The Octatonics (Combo)

Silver award – The Septapolos and Jazz Orchestra (directed by Minju Kim)

Bronze award – The Melomaniacs (Combo) and Beginners’ Jazz Combo

We would like to encourage our jazz musicians as they head towards these upcoming competitions. The teaching staff are extremely proud of your achievements to date but most of all your dedication towards your music and each other.

If you’d like to attend these performances, here are the dates for your diary:

• Auckland Jazz Competition – 31st July and 1st August at the Auckland Jazz & Blues Club, Point Chevalier Memorial RSA

• KBB Music Festival – 13th August at Holy Trinity Cathedral, Parnell