Craig Faniani has enjoyed a distinguished career as a music educator and musician. Faniani taught at Washington High School in West Sacramento and Starr King School before starting his long stint at Rio Americano High School. He is widely considered to be one of the founding fathers of this respected high school music program.
Prior to his arrival, only 40 students participated in one concert band and one jazz ensemble. During his 24-year tenure, that figure has changed remarkably: he built the program to a total of five concert bands and four jazz ensembles with over 200 students participating.
Under his direction, the Rio Americano AM Jazz Ensemble successfully captured an astonishing seven first-place awards in the High School Big Band category at the reputable Monterey Jazz Festival, as well as one award at the Reno Jazz Festival. In 2001, they were the first California band ever to be invited to the Essentially Ellington Festival in New York City. Craig Faniani is indeed a significant part of California’s long tradition of strong secondary school jazz education.