ABOUT THE PROGRAM

Located in the East Bay of the San Francisco Bay Area, El Cerrito High School holds a proud history of musical excellence that dates to the school’s opening in 1941. The band program at El Cerrito High School offers students the opportunity to develop their skills and passion for music through a variety of experiences that include performances, clinics, festivals, and travel opportunities. The program is comprised of three concert bands; the Wind Ensemble, Symphonic Band, and Concert Band as well as three jazz bands; the Jazz Ensemble, Jazz Workshop, and Jazz Lab. In addition to our classes the program also offers several extra-curricular ensemble opportunities that include the Gaucho Band and Jazz Combos.

The Symphonic Band, Concert Band, and Jazz Workshop are the foundation of the program and have all been recipients of superior ratings at festivals and competitions since the program’s expansion in 2014. Since that expansion the Symphonic Band has been the recipient of two consecutive CMEA Unanimous Superior awards and top honors at the 2018 Anaheim Heritage Festival, while the Jazz Workshop has placed at nearly every festival it has attended including a 2nd place finish in their division at the 2018 Reno Jazz Festival.

Founded in 1959 by John Overholtzer, the Wind Ensemble has established itself as the premiere performing ensemble at El Cerrito High School. Throughout its 60-year history, the El Cerrito Wind Ensemble has received superior ratings at local and state festivals and been recognized as one of the San Francisco Bay Area’s top high school wind bands. The band has made regular appearances at the California Music Educator’s Association (CMEA) State Band and Orchestra Festival and has performed in venues in cities across the country including San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, and Vancouver. Notable performances include Carnegie Hall in New York City (2015), Chicago’s Symphony Hall (2017), and the 2018 California All-State Music Education Conference (CASMEC) in San Jose where the group was selected as a featured performing ensemble.

Longtime Bay Area educator and trumpeter, Marv Nelson, established the jazz program at ECHS in 1965 with the creation of the Concert Jazz Band. Over its 50-year history, the El Cerrito Jazz Ensemble has been recognized as one of California’s top high school jazz bands and has performed in venues throughout the United States and abroad. The El Cerrito Jazz Ensemble has earned top ratings and first place awards at numerous jazz festivals across the west coast and have been finalists at Monterey’s Next Generation Jazz Festival in 2015, 2017, and 2018. Notable performances include appearances at the Monterey Jazz Festival, North Sea Jazz Festival, Montreux Jazz Festival, Umbria Jazz Festival, and the 2014 California All-State Music Education Conference (CASMEC) in Fresno as the featured jazz group.

For a full history of El Cerrito High School Bands click HERE