The unique collaboration is the creation of what one could call the power couple of high school vocal jazz

For the past fifty-one years, big bands, combos, and vocal jazz ensembles from around the country have competed at the Berklee High School Jazz Festival in Boston. This past January, two Westchester schools shared the spotlight. John Jay’s Vocal Jazz Ensemble won first place for larger schools. Edgemont High School’s Vocal Jazz Ensemble took top honors for smaller schools—for the sixth consecutive year. 

The conductor of John Jay’s vocal jazz group is Steve Morse. Edgemont’s conductor is Kelley Morse. The two accomplished directors, who are married, collaborated to create the inter-district vocal jazz workshop for students and concert for the public.

the secret is to shaping musical teenagers into #1 high school vocal jazz ensembles?

One might wonder what the Morse family secret is to shaping musical teenagers into the nation’s #1 high school vocal jazz ensembles.

“I think it’s allowing the kids to organically feel the music as opposed to just reading notes,” said Steve Morse. “By the directors—whether it’s me, Kelley, or any number of good directors out there—being willing to let go and trust the kids and trust the music you picked.”

Each school that takes top honors at the Berklee High School Jazz Festival receives three 50% scholarships for students to attend their prestigious summer programs.

John Jay will be sending Katie Gebbia, a rising senior, for jazz; Scott Weinstein, a rising junior, for musical theater; and Daniel Zitomer, a rising senior, for jazz.