Arts & Entertainment

MPAC Recognizes Outstanding Jazz Students


MORRISTOWN,N.J. - Students from Butler, Randolph, Kinnelon, Mendham, Florham Park and New Vernon were honored as Mayo Performing Arts Center's Music Students of the Month - Outstanding Jazz Musicians -- prior to the Thursday, January 24 performance by the Birdland All-Stars.

The students were recognized for their achievements on stage prior to the concert and had the opportunity to meet the band.

Students were nominated by their teachers and were chosen by the Theatre's Education Department based on their commitment to and excellence in the performing arts. The Theatre will honor a group of students every month throughout the season and invites area teachers to nominate students for this honor. Students will be invited to perform at a year-end recital in June.

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The 2017-2018 Music Student of the Month program is supported by The Walter F. and Alice Gorham Foundation, Inc.

Music Students of the Month are: (bios provided by school)

Rebecca Cortes
Grade 8, Richard Butler School; Butler; Nominated by Lyn Lowndes
Rebecca plays the clarinet for Concert Band, and Bari Saxophone for Jazz Band and Tenor sax in the Butler High School Marching Band. She has been a member of the Richard Butler Middle School Band program for the last four years, and the Jazz Band for the last two. Rebecca also participated in the North Jersey Area Band for the last two years. I have had the pleasure of seeing Rebecca grow as a musician, and mature into a nice young adult.

Joseph Dunne
Grade 8, Randolph Middle School; Randolph; Nominated by Kristen Siebenhuhner
Joseph stared playing the trumpet in fifth grade and has continued in band and the Jazz Ensemble throughout his middle school years. Joseph has proudly played "Taps" on his trumpet for his school's recognition of all veterans on Veterans Day. He was selected for the New Jersey Honors Band in sixth grade. He will be auditioning for the New Jersey Junior Regional Band this February. When he is not playing an instrument, he is busy practicing for his role as Captain Von Trapp in this year's middle school production of The Sound of Music, playing travel soccer, swimming for Shongum Lake swim team and participating in school clubs.

Elijiah Gately
Grade 8, Pearl R Miller School; Kinnelon; Nominated by Brian Scanlon
Eli has been an outstanding member of our Jazz-Rock Ensemble since 6th grade. This audition-only group encompasses our school's highest achieving musicians. Eli has been both an Alto Sax and Tenor Sax in our group and performs at a very high level. In this group we encourage the exploration of improvisation. Eli has demonstrated he has a great musical sense and no fear putting it on the line as he improvises each and every solo he is assigned. His character is something to note as well. Not only is he a great contributor to our group musically, he demonstrates the highest level of teamwork and positive leadership I have seen in years.

Lindsey Hernandez
Grade 12, Mendham High School; Mendham; Nominated by Tim Beadle
Lindsey Hernandez has been an outstanding member of the jazz ensemble, advanced wind ensemble, and pit orchestra for the past four years. What makes Lindsey an outstanding jazz musician is her willingness to double, and even triple on other instruments. Not only an outstanding alto saxophone player, she has doubled on clarinet, flute, soprano, and tenor sax, often playing 2 or three of these in a concert. This year, she has taken over leading the saxophone sectionals for our advanced jazz ensemble and the section is the strongest it has been in 4 years because of her leadership.

Ella LeSueur
Grade 8, Ridgedale Middle School; Florham Park; Nominated by Mike Leone
It has been clear from her first day in the program that jazz is Ella's passion. She shows a sophistication and maturity for the genre that far surpasses her grade level. It particularly shows in the depth of complexity that comes through in her improvised solos with the RMS Jazz Ensemble. Aside from just jazz, Ella is heavily involved in all facets of the music program at our school. She participates in both the fall drama and spring musical, as well as the concert band. She is an invaluable asset to our program who will be deeply missed next year.

Aren Hill
Grade 8, Harding Township School; New Vernon; Nominated by Tim Alworth
Aren is a spectacular middle school saxophonist and an even better student. He is diligent, hard working, and talented. He always does his best and is willing to do anything to help the group. He has been in my jazz band and middle school band since fifth grade (a year early) and has been my go-to jazz band soloist since he joined. He is never afraid to try new things and is a great improviser. He is also willing to help out the younger, more inexperienced players to help the group. Aren is a model student and jazz player and deserving of this honor.

Antonio Mennonna
Grade 12, Kinnelon High School; Kinnelon; Nominated by Ryan Stroud
Antonio has always been a stalwart member of our jazz band. He started off playing trumpet, moved to euphonium and now has demonstrated a very impressive ability on the drumset. Antonio will be continuing his studies in percussion during his college experience. We're very proud of his achievements, and look forward to seeing his accomplishments over the next several years!

Jeff Putlock
Grade 12, Randolph High School; Randolph; Nominated by David Miller
Jeff has been a solid lead trumpet player in the Randolph Jazz Ensemble 1 for the past two years. His growth over last school year and this school year has been tremendous. He has truly taken his playing and leadership to the next level this year. Jeff takes ownership of the music and his section. Here has called many sectionals on his own to get the trumpet section to sound better. I can't think of a more deserving student this school year

Mayo Performing Arts Center, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, presents a wide range of programs that entertain, enrich, and educate the diverse population of the region and enhance the economic vitality of Northern New Jersey. The 2017-2018 season is made possible, in part, by a grant the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as support received from the F.M. Kirby Foundation and numerous corporations, foundations and individuals. The Mayo Performing Arts Center has been designated a Major Presenting Organization by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. Mayo Performing Arts Center was named 2016 Outstanding Historic Theatre by the League of Historic American Theatres, and is ranked in the top 50 mid-sized performing arts centers by Pollstar Magazine.

Mayo Performing Arts Center
100 South St., Morristown, NJ 07960
box office (973) 539-8008
fax (973) 455-1607 / admin (973) 539-0345 ext.6505


First row:
Rebecca Cortes
Grade 8, Richard Butler School; Butler
Joseph Dunne  
Grade 8, Randolph Middle School; Randolph;
Elijiah Gately    
Grade 8, Pearl R Miller School; Kinnelon;

Second Row:
Aren Hill             
Grade 8, Harding Township School; New Vernon;
Antonio Mennonna       
Grade 12, Kinnelon High School; Kinnelon;
Jeff Putlock       
Grade 12, Randolph High School; Randolph;

Not Pictured:
Lindsey Hernandez
Grade 12, Mendham High School; Mendham;
Ella LeSueur
Grade 8, Ridgedale Middle School; Florham Park;


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