CWU News

CWU Earns Four DownBeat Student Music Awards

CWU Jazz Band 1 performing asynchronously via Zoom

CWU Jazz Band 1 had to perform asynchronously as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

For the first time in its history, the Central Washington University Department of Music earned four DownBeat Student Music Awards and will be published in the June issue of the renowned “jazz, blues, and beyond” DownBeat Magazine

CWU’s Jazz Ensemble 1 took home two awards for Central during the 45th annual DownBeat competition. Music alumna Alison Banchero (’21) and the Alison Banchero Band also received awards for their outstanding performance.

“DownBeat Magazine is the preeminent jazz publication in the world, and their annual Student Music Awards are considered the highest honor and most competitive awards for collegiate jazz studies programs,” said CWU Director of Jazz Brian Lawrence, adding that the four awards earned by CWU this year are the first ever for the university.

Established in 1976, the DownBeat Student Music Awards are considered the most prestigious awards in jazz education. Hundreds of musicians, music educators, and music industry professionals compete for the international recognition of a DownBeat Student Music Award Winner. 

The CWU music student and ensemble 2022 award recipients are: 

  • CWU Jazz Ensemble 1 (Spring 2021), directed by Professor Chris Bruya
    Undergraduate College Asynchronous Large Jazz Ensemble
  • CWU Jazz Ensemble 1 (Fall 2021), directed by Professor Brian Lawrence
    Undergraduate College Large Jazz Ensemble Outstanding Performance 
  • Alison Banchero, mentored by Professor Mark Samples
    Undergraduate College Blues/Pop/Rock Soloist Outstanding Performance
  • The Alison Banchero Band, mentored by Professor Mark Samples
    Undergraduate College Blues/Pop/Rock Band Outstanding Performance award.

“These awards add a new chapter to a long legacy of excellence at CWU, we could not be prouder of our students and faculty for earning this international recognition,” Lawrence said.

Learn more about CWU’s award-winning Department of Music and hear the ensemble’s performances on the CWU Music Department YouTube Channel.   

Media Contact: Dawn Alford, Department of Public Affairs,, 509-963-1484