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Avondale Quintet wins Best Combo award - again!

The Avondale College Quintet have a second major jazz competition award to add to the trophy cabinet this year following their success at the Auckland Secondary Schools Jazz Competition! The quintet, which features Lucas Wongso on bass, Chester Rowlands on drums, Francis Whall on piano, Jakob Elijas on trombone and Ben Ridsdale on saxophone, gave an outstanding performance at the finals of the competition held on Sunday at the Auckland Jazz & Blues Club, winning a Platinum Award, the award for Best Combo, and Ben (in Year 11) also winning an award for Best Soloist!

The group also won the Best Combo award at the National Youth Jazz Festival held in Tauranga in June, the second year running that an Avcol combo has won both the Tauranga and the Auckland jazz competitions consecutively.

The band came together at the start of the year ready to work hard and see where that would take them.

"I think a big reason why we managed to keep our motivation high during the entire year was because we were writing our own original arrangements and compositions," says bassist Lucas Wongso (Year 13). "We have a few times made small changes to the set only a day or two before the performance, constantly looking for ways to improve on our own work."

Having fun with the music is a big part of their approach, says pianist Francis Whall (Year 12).

"I enjoy playing with these guys because they approach the music with an open attitude and they want to have fun. So you feel supported and free to explore something new or express something you can hear."

Lucas agrees. "It's always amazing to get on stage and play with these guys. Once we start playing, the nerves dissolve and all that's left is just us on stage playing what we love to play."

All five band members have come through the College's Jazz Academy programme, run by the Performing Arts Academy Director and Head of Jazz, Mr Michael Robinson.

"Mr Robinson is a huge reason why we've been so successful," says Lucas. "We all appreciate the amount of work he puts in and for giving so much of his free time to let us rehearse during weekends and school holidays."

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