The El Cerrito High School Band Program has a proud history of musical excellence and award-winning ensembles. The program offers students the opportunity to develop their skills and passion for music through a variety of musical experiences that include performances, clinics, festivals, and travel opportunities. The program serves over 170 students and is comprised of three levels of band classes that include 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.

Since its creation in 1959 by John Overholtzer (Director of Bands, 1950-62) the Wind Ensemble has established itself as the premiere performing ensemble at El Cerrito High School and received positive recognition throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and the state. Throughout its history the group has received superior ratings at local and state festivals, performing in venues throughout North America including Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, and Vancouver among others. In 2015, the El Cerrito Wind Ensemble held its first performance at Carnegie Hall in New York City as a part of the New York Wind Band Festival. Recently, the group has been selected to perform at the CMEA State Band and Orchestra Festival at the Mondavi Center on the campus of UC Davis in 2014, 2015, and 2017 and in 2018 was selected as a featured ensemble at the California All State Music Education Conference (CASMEC) in San Jose, CA.

Established by longtime Bay Area educator and trumpeter Marv Nelson (Director of Bands, 1962-67), the jazz program at El Cerrito High School began with the creation of the Concert Jazz Band in 1965. In its over fifty year history, the Jazz Ensemble has gained recognition throughout California and has performed in venues across the United States and abroad including performances in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, and several European countries. The band has earned top ratings at jazz festivals across the west coast and has been selected as finalist for Monterey’s Next Generation Jazz Festival in 2015, 2017, and 2018. In 2014 the El Cerrito Jazz Ensemble performed as the featured jazz group at the California All State Music Education Conference (CASMEC) in Fresno, CA. Other notable performances include the Monterey Jazz Festival (1991), North Sea Jazz Festival (2014), Montruex Jazz Festival (2014), and Umbria Jazz Festival, and has held annual performances at Yoshi’s Jazz Club in Oakland since 2002.

Following a tradition of excellence, the Concert Band, Symphonic Band, and Jazz Workshop provide the foundation on which the program is built on. These groups have been recipients of Unanimous Superior ratings at festivals and competitions since the program’s expansion in 2014.

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