Settlement student wins Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Essentially Ellington Student Composition and Arranging Contest

Leo Steinriede performs at Settlement Music School’s 2019 Advanced Study Concert in Philadelphia (Donna Rizzo).

Leo Steinriede, guitarist in Settlement Music School’s Helen K. Schwartz Advanced Study Jazz Ensemble, was selected as the winner of the prestigious Jazz at Lincoln Center’s 8th Annual Essentially Ellington Dr. J. Douglas White Student Composition and Arranging Contest.

Leo’s composition was selected among 26 entries from student composers from around the country. The Rhetorical Situation was written for a big band of five saxophones, four trumpets, three trombones and a rhythm section of guitar, piano, bass and drums. On February 1, Leo conducted the piece for the first time in public at the Composers League of Philadelphia’s Jazz Composers Showcase at the Painted Bride in Old City, Philadelphia.

Leo, 17, a junior at Lower Merion High School, will have his composition recorded in New York by the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and receive a cash prize. In addition, the award includes a composition lesson with GRAMMY award-winning musician and longtime Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra member, Ted Nash, and a trip to New York to participate in the Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Competition & Festival, May 7-9.

Essentially Ellington is a free program for high school jazz bands that aims to elevate musicianship, broaden perspectives and inspire performance. Eighteen high school jazz bands from around the country will participate in this year’s festival.

Leo, a guitarist, arranger and composer, studies music at the Philadelphia Clef Club of Jazz and Performing Arts, Settlement Music School and Lower Merion High School. He studies arranging with Joseph Block.

Leo will perform with the Helen K. Schwartz Advanced Study Ensemble at Jazz and Java this Friday, February 21 at 7 p.m.

For additional information on the Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Competition and Festival, visit