Idyllwild Jazz Fest = Student Scholarships

A photo of Jacob, a jazz scholarship student, was featured on the program

By Marcia E. Gawecki

Many of the jazz enthusiasts who attended last weekend’s Jazz in the Pines event didn’t know it was a scholarship fundraiser (although it was clearly written on all of the promotional materials).

“Ticket prices are a little high,” said one attendee from San Diego of the $60 entry fee. “Other jazz fests like the one in Monterey only charge $35 to get in, but it’s a great being up here in the mountains.”

When she was told by another attendee that the money raised from the jazz fest went to student scholarships for the Idyllwild Arts Academy, she was impressed.

“Well, that’s different,” she said. “There’s a lot of talented kids out there who can’t afford to go to a good school. If my ticket today helps them get there, I’m all for it.”

At least three scholarship students performed live at this year’s Jazz in the Pines event, including Jacob on sax, Caleb on trumpet and Connor on trombone. Marshall Hawkins, head of the Jazz Department at Idyllwild Arts, always invites his Idyllwild Arts jazz students (and some classical students) to play with his band, the Harry Pickens Trio.

Not only did they play with him on Sunday, August 29, but he showed them off to the crowd.

“The students were playing in the back, and he brought them up front and center, and made them play some solos,” explained one jazz fan from Palm Springs. “Poor kids, they were put on the spot, but they did great!”

She said that she saw Jacob afterwards while waiting in line for the shuttle, and asked him if he was nervous about being singled out.

Little did the fans know, but Jacob, Caleb and Connor, had been practicing all summer for that very moment in the spotlight.

Caleb was a teacher’s assistant during one of the summer school sessions at Idyllwild Arts. Jose, who lived in the same dorm and heard him play at concerts, was impressed with his dedication.

“We’d see him in the mornings, and after dinner,” explained Jose. “All the time in between, he was practicing his horn.”

Jacob knew that he’d be playing at the jazz fest when school ended last June.

“Come and hear me play at the Jazz Fest,” he told his friends and teachers.

In fact, a photo of Jacob was featured on a full page advertisement on the back of the jazz fest program. It showed him intently playing his sax.

“I was really surprised when someone pointed it out to me,” Jacob said. “That’s really cool!”

Connor, who lives in Palm Springs, and spent his summer tutoring grade school music students in his dad’s office, was also ready for his solo at the jazz fest.

For them, to be in front of a live audience, especially one that understands and appreciates jazz, was quite the thrill. For most of the year, they play before select audiences made up of friends and faculty.

Mariya, a classical bass player who had a four-year scholarship to Idyllwild Arts, also played with Marshall Hawkins at the Jazz in the Pines last year.

“It was a good experience playing before a live audience,” Mariya said. “But it got a little cold in the shade. My fingers were frozen.”

Since then, Mariya graduated and earned a full scholarship to The Colburn School of Music in Los Angeles. She hopes to come back and play with the Idyllwild Arts Student Orchestra as a “ringer” (a professional player) sometime this year.

“We’re coming back!” Jacob shouted as he walked along Tollgate to his car after the show. “Caleb and I are coming back here for our senior year!”

Ticket sales at Jazz in the Pines 2010 must’ve been good this year.


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A photo of Jacob, a jazz scholarship student, was featured on the program
Jazz Jacob ad


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