For the 16th consecutive year the Fort Pierce Jazz and Blues Society awarded music scholarships to worthy area high school seniors. Eleven area graduating seniors were awarded $1,000 each as this year’s music merit scholarships winners. The Scholarships are presented each year to encourage continuing interest and studies of Jazz.
Applicants were recommended by their High School Band or Chorus Directors, and were required to submit an essay telling of their interest in music. This year’s applicants also auditioned by performing live with the Jazz Society’s Jazz ensemble at either the Black Box venue of the Sunrise Theatre or the Port St. Lucie Botanical Gardens. Applicants were required to perform two songs of contrasting styles and were judged on musicianship, vocal ability or instrumental improvisation, and overall impression. A panel of Jazz Society professional musicians and educators evaluated the applicants.
On Tuesday evening, May 29th, the eleven winners performed before an excited audience at the Black Box and were presented their scholarship checks. The winners were:
- Kodi Akers, Saxophone, Sebastian River High School
- Zachary Bacak, Saxophone, Jensen Beach High School
- Kacy Carvajal, Bass, Indian River Charter High School
- Ilya DaCosta, Bass, Jensen Beach High School
- Alana Ferraro, Vocalist, Port St. Lucie High School
- Christopher Hulka, Trombone, Treasure Coast High School
- Payton Hurley, Vocalist, Jensen Beach High School
- Zac Maes, Saxophone, Vero Beach High School
- Jack Sheehan, Saxophone, Jensen Beach High School
- Brylon Terry, Drums, Indian River Charter High School
- AJ Vansuetendael, Bass, The Pine School
The following named scholarships were presented: The Tom Omans Memorial Award, the Lynne & Joseph Boutote Merit Award, the Louis Sanzaro Memorial Award, the FPJ&BS Merit Award, the Lenora & Steve Satin Merit Award, the Honesto Villasurda Memorial Award, the Marie B. Merit Award, the Art Sheehan Memorial Award, the Maestro Nicolo Marsicano Memorial Award, the David S. Cook Merit Award, and the Thomas and Kathy Dixon Merit Award.
Jazz Society President, Don Bestor, Jr., spoke of the growth of the Jazz and Blues Society throughout the past 16 years and noted its present recognition as a significant cultural influence in the Treasure Coast area. He spoke of the Society’s stability and its pride in providing $11,000 this year to assist young musicians in furthering their education.
Scholarship judges, Society President Don Bestor, Jr., Stix Nickson, Chauncey Mays, Al Hager, Dean Lopes and Mark Green all agreed that this year’s winners were by far the most advanced young musicians heard in the 16 years of scholarship awards.
Chairman of the Scholarship Committee, Al Hager, said that the process of advising potential applicants began last fall by contacting area high school Music Directors. He credited much of the program’s success to their dedicated work. He added that he expects next year’s turnout to be even greater and advised that prospective scholarship applicants are encouraged to begin preparing now for the spring auditions of 2013.