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The Obamas to chair Thelonious Monk International Bass Competition

President Barack Obama and First-Lady Michelle Obama will be serving as honorary chairs at the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Bass Competition and Gala Concert this October. The Gala co-chairs include Madeleine Albright, Herb and Lani Alpert, Quincy Jones, Debra Lee, Bill and Carolyn Powers, and Joseph E. Robert Jr.

The Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition features a different instrument and 2009 is the year of the bass. Young musicians have the opportunity to compete for serious awards and scholarships in front of jazz legends.

This year’s competition features 15 amazing young jazz bassists who will compete before an all-star panel including: David Baker, Ron Carter, Charlie Haden, Dave Holland, Bob Hurst, Christian McBride, and John Patitucci. Over $100,000 worth of scholarships and prizes will be awarded to finalists. First place will receive a recording contract with Concord Records and a $20,000 scholarship. Second and third will receive $10,000 and $5,000 scholarships respectively to help further their continuing jazz education at the collegiate level.

This year’s semi-finalists include: David Baron, West Hartford, Conn.; Matt Brewer, Oklahoma City, Okla.; Shawn Conley, Nu’uanu, Hawaii; Adam Cote, Poughquag, N.Y.; Corcoran Holt, Washington, D.C.; Daryl Johns, the Bronx, N.Y.; Raviv Markovitz, Lexington, Mass.; Ben Meigners, New York, N.Y.; Linda Oh, Australia; Harish Raghavan, North Brook, Ill.; Jorge Roeder, Lima, Peru; Ruben Samama, The Netherlands; Joe Sanders, Milwaukee, Wis.; Clemes van der Feen, The Netherlands; and Ben Williams, Washington, D.C.

The Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition is widely seen as the most prestigious jazz competition in the world and has helped launch the careers of many well known jazz stars including Joshua Redman, Jane Monheit, Marcus Roberts, Tierney Sutton and Joey DeFrancesco.

The semi-finals will be held at noon on Saturday October 10th at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, Baird Auditorium. The finals are the next day, Sunday October 11th, at 7:30pm. Tickets range from $35-$1000 VIP passes. The proceeds from the competition will help fund public school blues and jazz education programs throughout Washington D.C., Los Angeles, Chicago, New Orleans, and the Mississippi Delta. Tickets may be purchased by calling 800-444-1324 (202-364-7272 for VIP) or online at . More information on the competition is available online from the organization’s web site.