Duke Ellington: Georgetown's dream school

Photo by Judith Beermann
Rokas Beresniovas with Duke Ellington's Ellen Copley and Tia Powell Harris
Rokas Beresniovas with Duke Ellington's Ellen Copley and Tia Powell Harris
You know the big green lawn chair. You know the legend for whom it’s named. You may even know it’s a D.C. public school in Georgetown. But did you know that over 95 percent of its graduates are accepted into the nation’s most competitive universities and conservatories? Or that they have a professional recording studio (one you can rent) and theater with seating for 800?

For D.C.'s aspiring artists in disciplines including dance, vocal, music, theater, and the visual arts, there’s nothing like The Duke Ellington School of the Arts.
Rehearsing (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Rehearsing "DreamGirls"

The Georgetown Business Association, hosted a reception and tour of the school Thursday evening.

Rehearsals were underway (with a live orchestra) for their upcoming production of “DreamGirls” opening Dec. 2, while a student/faculty art exhibition, a vibrant display of sculpture, costume, paint and photographs, filled the halls.

With three upcoming invitations for his students to perform at the White House in December, Rory Pullens, head of the school and CEO told the crowd of over 60 business leaders and patrons of the arts, “the First Lady calls us her private glee club.”
Former student, teacher and artist Zenobia (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Former student, teacher and artist Zenobia

“All graduates leave one piece of art behind,” Pullens explained as he pointed to  an especially large canvas. Why this one, he asked the student? “Because it‘s too big to take in the Metro” the student answered. Pullens lead the group down to the full recording studio and into a student lounge where Duke Ellington donated one of his own pianos.
Christian Videla, Ron Newman, and Riyad Said (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Christian Videla, Ron Newman, and Riyad Said

Former student and singer, Ron Newman, now the school's operations manager explained, “more than anything else, Duke Ellington helped me understand the importance of discipline to be a great artist.”
Marta Reid Stewart with Solomon Howard's (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Marta Reid Stewart with Solomon Howard's "Chocolate Lover"

Marta Reid Stewart proudly shared the story of a former photography student Solomon Howard, a “kid from Southeast who had failed at Ballou High School, but because of his talent was accepted into Duke Ellington, and went on to graduate from the Corcoran.”
Head of School and CEO, Rory Pullens (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Head of School and CEO, Rory Pullens

For more information and tickets to “DreamGirls” (original DreamGirl Jennifer Holliday makes a special appearance Gala Night, Dec. 9) visit Duke Ellington School of the Arts.

0 Comments For This Article

Ellen Coppley

Loved the article. You really captured the essence of Ellington.

Judith Beermann

Thank you, Ellen. It's a VERY special place because of people like you!