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Roots and Rhyzomes by Christina Fuchs
Christina Fuchs

Christina Fuchs is a German saxophonist, clarinetist, conductor and composer.

During the past 25 years saxophonist Christina Fuchs has developed an instantly recognizable sound and a unique language as a composer. Fuchs' work includes traditional concerts as well as collaborations with other art forms, such as dance, visual arts, literature, spoken word, movies, and theatre. What is common to all of these settings is Fuchs' emphasis on blending written and improvised music.

Christina's originality has been felt in just about every corner of the German and international jazz scene, including concerts, radio broadcasts and TV productions. Fuchs has received awards and scholarships at NAIRS -Centre for Contemporary Art, Switzerland 2016, 1st Price International Composition Award ‘Scrivere in Jazz’, Sarrari/Italy 2016, WDR/Cologne Jazz Price for Composition/WDR Radio Big Band commission Germany2014, Banff Centre of the Arts/Leighton-Artists-Colony/Canada 2014, Künstlerhaus Ahrenshoop/Germany 2007, NDR Radio Big Band commission/Germany 2005, Nairs/Art in Engadina Bassa/Switzerland 2004, Art Omi Music Program NY 2003, Julius Hemphill Composition Awards for Large Ensemble U.S.A. 2002, Jazz a r t -New Music in the 21st century- composition award NRW/Germany 2001, BMI composers program NYC with Jim McNeely, Maria Schneider and Michael Abene 1999/2000, Banff Centre of the Arts/Canada 1997/98.

She was a founder and co-leader of the United Women's Orchestra in Germany.

Her bands/projects include Duo Kontrasax, Christina Fuchs Quartett ‘No Tango’, NoTango&Strings, Soundscapes Orchestra, Lagash, Blue Art Orchestra, Soundscapes of Home, and DoubleXXSaxQuartet. Learn more


Honorable Mention

After Hours by Stephanie Urquhart

Stephanie Urquhart is a Canadian jazz pianist and composer based in Edmonton, Alberta. She graduated from MacEwan University with a Bachelors of Music majoring in Composition in 2015, and has since become an active performer and composer in Edmonton.

She has been featured at numerous venues and festivals such as the TD Edmonton International Jazz Festival and the Yardbird Suite jazz club.

Stephanie started gaining international recognition when she was selected to present her music at the 2017 International Jazz Composers' Symposium in Tampa, Florida.
Learn more

2016 Winner

The Whale by Miseung Kang


Pianist and composer Miseung Kang is from Seoul, Korea. She was exposed to classical music thanks to her mother being a cellist. She began learning piano and cello from a very young age.

After studying classical composition at Sungshin Womens University in Korea, Miseung entered Berklee College of Music in 2012 and started playing jazz. In 2013 she became a jazz composition major and graduated in 2015.

  "Holding On" and "Winter Walk" were chosen for the Best of Jazz Composition concerts at Berklee.  Her arrangement of "Raincheck" won the annual Billy Strayhorn competition.This resulted in a chance to work with the West Point Army Band who performed the arrangement at the Berklee Performance Center. The Berklee Concert Jazz Orchestra performed the arrangement at the Newport Jazz Festival in 2015.

Honorable Mention

Smoking Monkeys by Lauren McKinley


Lauren McKinley is an active jazz pianist, composer, and percussionist, currently in her first year of graduate school at the University of North Texas, pursuing a MM in Jazz Studies with an emphasis in composition and arranging.

She graduated Summa Cum Laude with Honors from Eastern Washington University, earning degrees in Composition and Percussion Performance with an Undergraduate Jazz Certificate. While at EWU, Lauren won first place in the 2013 EWU Concerto Competition, the Outstanding Undergraduate Jazz Arranger award in 2014, 2015, and 2016, and received the Frances B. Huston award.

Lauren's compositions and arrangements have been performed throughout the Inland Northwest, including a commissioned piece for the Spokane Jazz Orchestra's "Hollywood Jazz" concert in March of 2015.

2015 Winner

Cat Dreams by Nelda Swiggett

SWOJO with special guest Mimi Fox, Earshot Jazz Festival 2015.


Jazz pianist and composer Nelda Swiggett is a Seattle native and University of Washington graduate. She headlines her own group at many of the Northwest’s top jazz venues.

Nelda has recorded four CDs of her original music. Room to Move | No Time for Daydreams (1993) features sextet arrangements for trumpet, tenor and trombone.

In 1998, her talent for composition was recognized by an Artist Trust Fellowship funded by the Washington State Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts. Her second release as a leader followed -- Nelda Swiggett Quartet | Hands On (1999).

In 2010, Nelda released her third recording -- Nelda Swiggett Trio | This Time (OA2 Records).

Nelda’s most recent CD, Blue-Eyed Painted Lady (OA2 Records 2014), features her five-piece band Stringtet, a collaboration between her jazz piano trio and veteran Seattle Symphony musicians on viola and cello. Learn more

2015 Honorable Mentions

Inhale by Gizem Gokoglu

Gizem is a composer and singer from Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. She holds a Master of Music Theory and Composition: Composing for Film & Multimedia from NYU and a Bachelor of Music from Berklee College of Music in Jazz Composition and Performance (Voice).

Gizem received the Quincy Jones Award, attended the Maria Schneider Jazz Composition Seminar Classes, and took part in the BMI Jazz Composers Workshop. Learn more


Follow The Yellow Fish - a little adventure under the sea by Migiwa Miyajima

Migiwa is a multi-talented professional pianist, composer, arranger, producer, and bandleader who has headlined performances in USA and Japan, and has performed with the legendary, multiple Grammy Award-winning Vanguard Jazz Orchestra.

Her original composition If I Were a Wind of Spring was recorded by saxophonist Steve Wilson during his one-week stint at the Village Vanguard jazz club in 2014. The resulting CD, Live in New York: The Vanguard Sessions, was released in 2015. Her most recent work, Hope for Hope, was a finalist for the 2015 BMI/Charlie Parker Award. Learn more

2014 Winner

Noir by Dr. Jennifer Bellor

SWOJO with special guest Grace Kelly, Earshot Jazz Festival 2014.

Jennifer Bellor is a versatile composer who enjoys collaborating with classical and jazz musicians, singers, dancers, librettists, and visual artists.

She received a 2013 DownBeat Award for her composition Midnight Swim for big band in the original composition/orchestrated work category at the graduate college level. Additionally, she was commissioned by Washington National Opera's American Opera Initiative to write a 20-minute opera, Duffy's Cut, that was premiered at the Kennedy Center in 2013.

Her works have been featured by Washington National Opera, ACO Jazz Composers Orchestra Institute readings in New York City, North American Saxophone Alliance Conference, Aspen Music Festival, Cleveland Composers Institute of Recording, Buffalo Philharmonic Young Composers Readings, among others, and have been presented by ensembles including the American Composers Orchestra, Cuong Vu Trio, Society for New Music Vision of Sound Series, Eastman Saxophone Project, Eastman New Jazz Ensemble, and many others in the U.S. and abroad.

Jennifer received a Ph.D in music composition at Eastman School of Music, a Master of Music degree in composition at Syracuse University, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in music at Cornell University.

Jennifer is Visiting Lecturer at University of Nevada, Las Vegas where she teaches courses in music composition and theory.

2014 Honorable Mention

Deep Blue Sea by Jihye Lee

SWOJO with special guest Grace Kelly, Earshot Jazz Festival 2014.

Jihye Lee is a recent graduate of Berklee College of Music with a dual major in Jazz Composition and Vocal Performance. She is a versatile player and composer, having worked with many of Berklee’s most distinguished faculty members, as well as renowned composers Maria Schneider, Terrence Blanchard, John Clayton, and Robin Eubanks in the 2014 Berklee Jazz Composition Symposium.

Recipient of the 2013 and 2014 Duke Ellington Awards for Jazz Composition, Jihye had the honor of hearing her works performed by The Greg Hopkins Concert Jazz Orchestra, Eric Gould’s Best of Jazz Composition Concerts, and The Lisa Thorson Quartet.

Jihye is also an accomplished vocalist and singer-songwriter, having received numerous awards and scholarships for her achievements within the Berklee Voice Department. She also released an EP and an album in her hometown of Seoul, South Korea, before beginning her studies at Berklee.

2013 Winner

Lights by Jessika (Leek) Smith

Lights by Jessika (Leek) Smith. Winner, 1st Annual Jazz Composition Contest for Women Composers. SWOJO with special guest Ingrid Jensen, trumpet. Earshot Jazz Festival 2013.

Currently residing in Eugene, Oregon, Jessika Smith is the director and coordinator of the Eugene Composer's Big Band and a music educator at Prairie Mountain School.

She completed a Master's Degree in Jazz Studies at the University of Oregon in June 2014. During her time at UO, Jessika played lead alto with the award-winning Oregon Jazz Ensemble, which toured Europe in the summer of 2014 and participated in the Montreux, Vienne, Umbria, and La Spezia Jazz Festivals.

Jessika is also a graduate of Eastern Washington University with a BA and teaching certificate in K-12 Music Education. She received the Outstanding Undergraduate Jazz Award both in 2009 and 2010, graduated magna cum laude, and received EWU's Frances B. Huston award in 2011.

Jessika's debut album, Tricks of Light was released in 2015.

Smith's composition Cyan Thread was recently announced as the winner of the 2015 National Band Association Young Jazz Composer's Contest. The Navy Commodores performed the piece at the 2015 Midwest Clinic in Chicago on December 17, 2015. Cyan Thread was also awarded an honorable mention in the 2015 Ithaca College Jazz Composition Contest.

2013 Honorable Mention
El Aaiun - Across the Border by Mathilde Grooss-Viddal

El Aaiun-Across The Border by Mathilde Grooss-Viddal, Honorable Mention, 1st Annual Jazz Composition Contest for Women Composers. SWOJO with special guests Ingrid Jensen, trumpet and Mathilde Grooss-Viddal, soprano sax. Earshot Jazz Festival 2013.

Mathilde Grooss-Viddal is a Norwegian musician/composer living in Oslo, Norway. Mathilde is an artist with deep foundation in several different styles, whose own work goes beyond the boundaries of genre.

Mathilde is a saxophone and clarinet teacher at the Bærum Scool of Music and Culture since 1999 and is also a bass clarinet teacher at the University of Oslo. She is a busy and highly regarded arranger and bandleader on the contemporary Norwegian jazz scene.

She has released several CD's with her band, FriEnsemblet, to great critical acclaim. Learn more

This project is supported in part by:
The National Endowment for the Arts, Washington Arts Commission, 4 Culture, Seattle Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs and The Seattle Foundation.

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