2020/2021 Scholarship Award Winners

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JENNIFER ARMOR

vocals/violin

The Cincinnati Jazz Hall of Fame: Elsa Heisel Sule Jazz Studies Scholarship

 

Jennifer Armor, now seventeen, has made music a part of her life at an early age–a jazz vocalist at 8 years old and began studying classical violin at the age of 5. A home-schooled high-school senior, she now studies with Professor Kurt Sassmannshaus and is in the Starling

Preparatory Strings Project, an honors program for pre-conservatory string students at the University of Cincinnati-College Conservatory of Music.

 

Jennifer is currently principal second with the Cincinnati Symphony’s Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, has played first violin with CSYO for the past three years, and has been a member of youth orchestras in other cities since 2013.

 

In addition to the violin, Jennifer plays viola with several chamber groups weekly, performing at the 2017 opening of Cincinnati’s Music Hall and providing a pre-concert performance for the Danish String Quartet. Her chamber group, the Eclatante Quartet, won the silver prize in this year’s Fischoff National Chamber Competition.

 

Jennifer sings jazz at local venues and is a weekly vocalist/violinist with the Cincinnati Jazz Hall of Fame’s high school jazz program, “Jazz at Dusk” series. She has had solo performances at Greenhills Village on the Green Concerts (2018-19), Foster’s Troubadour Café (2017-19), and Theater Odyssey in Florida (2016).

 

After graduating from high school, Jennifer hopes to attend a music conservatory, focusing on violin performance, string quartet, orchestra, and jazz concentration.

 

Jennifer would like to thank her parents, family, and friends for all of their support during her many performances and recordings. In addition, she expresses her gratitude to The Cincinnati Jazz Hall of Fame for the 2020 Jazz Scholarship and likewise for all the help she received from the “Jazz at Dusk” series.

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SEAN BUTKOVICH

piano

The Cincinnati Jazz Hall of Fame: John Von Ohlen Jazz Studies Scholarship

Sean Butkovich attends Turpin High School and has been playing the piano for most of his life—starting 11 years ago. He is a two-time member of the District 14 Honors Jazz Band and Turpin High School Jazz Band.

 

Butkovich sings in the Honors Level Choir, Chamber Choir, Boys’ A Cappella Group, and is the Section Leader in Singers Choir. He also has a

passion for theatre production where he is a composer and producer. And he enjoys running cross-country, swimming, singing, and playing the guitar.

 

Sean plays jazz piano at local venues and is a member of the Patrick Oakes Quartet and the CCM Prep Jazz Combo; and performs weekly with the Cincinnati Jazz Hall of Fame’s high school jazz program, “Jazz at Dusk” series. Sean will continue to perform and plans to study jazz piano in college.

 

Sean would like to thank his family and friends for all of their encouragement and support during his school years. In addition, he’d like to thank his teachers, as well as, Michelle Burkley from Turpin High School, the UC/CCM Prep Combo and the Cincinnati Jazz Hall of Fame “Jazz at Dusk” series for their guidance.

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EDGAR BYERS

saxophone

The Cincinnati Jazz Hall of Fame: Elsa Heisel Sule Jazz Studies Scholarship

 

Edgar Byars is a saxophonist from Hyde Park, currently a senior at Walnut Hills High School, and is a member of their jazz program. He began playing the saxophone in elementary school, but discovered jazz and improvisation in high school, and constantly strives

to become a better musician. He has spent his high school career studying privately with educator and saxophonist Jennifer Grantham.

 

Byars is an active member of the Walnut jazz program, performing private venues on behalf of the school for over 3 years. He has participated in the OMEA District 14 Honor Jazz Ensemble, and was a member of the OMEA 2020 All-State Jazz Ensemble. He has spent the majority of his musical career performing jazz across the greater Cincinnati area.

 

He currently is a member of the Greater Cincinnati Youth Jazz Collaborative, directed by Isidore Rudnick, and plays with the Cincinnati Jazz Hall of Fame’s “Jazz at Dusk” Combo under the leadership of the Jazz Education Programs Director, Sue Brown. In addition he has participated in the CCM Jazz Summer Camp, and performed at the 2019 CPS International Jazz Festival. After graduation, Byars is looking to continue his saxophone studies, at either the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music, University of Miami’s Frost School of Music, or at The Ohio State University.

 

Edgar is honored to receive the 2020 Cincinnati Jazz Hall of Fame Scholarship, and is grateful for all of the support received from the Cincinnati Jazz Hall of Fame & “Jazz at Dusk” series. Last but not least, he thanks his family and teachers for their continued encouragement and support in his musical endeavors.

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JACK EARLY

bass

The Cincinnati Jazz Hall of Fame: Elsa Heisel Sule Jazz Studies Scholarship

 

Jack Early is a senior at Walnut Hills High School. He has been part of Cincinnati Jazz Hall of Fame’s high school education program, “Jazz at Dusk” series, the Greater Cincinnati Youth Jazz Collaborative, the Cincinnati Youth Jazz Orchestra, the CCM-prep Combo, the Walnut Hills

Jazz Ensemble, the Walnut Hills Chamber Orchestra, the Walnut Hills Marching Band, and other local youth groups.

 

Jack started his career in jazz as a tuba player in a combo class. When the need for a bass player arose, he volunteered, and within two years the bass became his mainstay! In the meantime, Jack founded a “brotherhood” of tuba players in order to advance the instrument’s presence in the school.

 

Early is grateful for all of the encouragement and guidance from Mr. Andrew Peoples, Dr. Isidore Rudnick, Jennifer Grantham and Sue Brown – as well as from his amazing private lessons teachers, Aaron Jacobs and Maurice Todd; his super supportive parents, Susan and Tim Early, and all of the other directors and musicians that have helped him along the way.

 

Next year Early plans to attend a jazz studies program, and will most likely stay in Cincinnati. Jack says, “Music has been his passion since before he can remember, and he looks to continue this journey for the rest of his life.”

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PARK DENDY
guitar

The Cincinnati Jazz Hall of Fame:
2021 Elsa Heisel Sule Jazz Studies Scholarship

Park Dendy is a senior at Lakota West High School and will be attending DePaul University this fall. He has played guitar for close to seven years, after two years playing classical piano.

He started out playing classic rock from the likes of Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin, but was soon introduced to jazz music through his teacher, Brad Myers. From there, he joined his school jazz band, which led to performances with the Lakota West Jazz Combo, Lakota West Jazz Orchestra, and District 13 Honor Jazz Band.

Park later joined Cincinnati Jazz Hall of Fame’s “Jazz at Dusk” (JAD) Combo, Lakota West Chorale, Cincinnati Youth Jazz Orchestra, and Tri-State Advanced Jazz Combo, formed coffeehouse jazz trio Minor Ninth, and played in pit orchestras for various musicals. When he isn’t practicing or gigging, Park enjoys backcountry camping trips, fishing, traveling, Craigslist, and watching baseball.

 

He is very grateful for all the support he has received thus far from his family, friends, teachers, and community, and he is thrilled to have received a 2021 Elsa Heisel Sule Jazz Studies Scholarship from the Cincinnati Jazz Hall Of Fame for participation in the JAD series!

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CHAYA JONES
jazz vocalist

The Cincinnati Jazz Hall of Fame:
2021 Elsa Heisel Sule Jazz Studies Scholarship

 

Chaya Jones is a singer-songwriter, musician, and producer born and raised in Cincinnati. She began her musical training at the tender age of three, learning violin through the Suzuki method. Over the years her passion for music continued to grow, and she was able to rack up skills in an impressive eight instruments.

 

At the age of 12, she began taking her love for singing more seriously, and it was then she learned more about vocal production, performance, and songwriting. Through her various gigs in the city she was able to connect with Jazz at Dusk (JAD), and she has been singing with them for about three years.

 

Throughout her high school years she was able to work with some wonderful organizations within the city such as the Cincinnati Opera, the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, the Cincinnati Jazz Hall of Fame, and Music Resource Center. She also has a multitude of impactful musical experiences in her arsenal such as opening up for Grammy nominated group, Tank and the Bangas. Chaya hopes to pursue a professional career in music as a vocalist/entertainer and producer. She will be studying at UC-CCM for a bachelor’s degree in commercial music production with a minor in business. She is extremely grateful for the scholarship and the opportunities that Cincinnati Jazz Hall of Fame’s “Jazz at Dusk” program has presented over the years and is excited to see what the future holds for her.

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JACKSON HACIAS
tenor saxophone

The Cincinnati Jazz Hall of Fame:
2021 Elsa Heisel Sule Jazz Studies Scholarship

 

Jackson began playing the Tenor Saxophone in elementary school and was first introduced to jazz studies by participating in the CCM Preparatory High School Arts Immersion Jazz Academy, directed by Jennifer Grantham, the summer before his freshman year and participated in this program for three years. He was selected for the Cincinnati Youth Jazz Orchestra & Combo, First Chair, for three years of high school, prior to being suspended due to the pandemic.

Beginning in 2019 Jackson was invited to participate in “Jazz at Dusk”, an educational program offered by the Cincinnati Jazz Hall of Fame’s Jazz Educational Programs Director, Sue Brown. The group has performed at venues such as Cafe Vivace, Latitudes Bar & Bistro, the Lytle Park Hotel and Washington Platform.

 

Based upon his participation and audition, Jackson has been awarded, the 2021 Elsa Heisel Sule Jazz Studies scholarship from the Cincinnati Jazz Hall of Fame.

 

Also, Jackson was chosen to be a member of the Greater Cincinnati Youth Jazz Collaborative (GCYJC), First Chair, 2018-2020, directed by Dr. Isidore Rudnick. He performed in events such as CPS Community College Jazz Night and the CPS International Jazz Festival at the Aronoff Center. He also was selected for Tri-State Ensembles Jazz Combo, First Chair, 2019 and 2021, directed by Josh Kline and Spencer Merk, respectively. Also, he was selected for the 2019 OMEA District XIV Honor Jazz Festival, Jazz Ensemble I.

 

Jackson looks forward to pursuing a double major in Physics and Jazz Performance at Michigan State University, followed by attending graduate school in Physics. Jackson hopes to have a career in academia, while also remaining active in the Jazz performance community.

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VICTOR MADELAINE
guitar

The Cincinnati Jazz Hall of Fame:
2021 Elsa Heisel Sule Jazz Studies Scholarship

 

Victor Madelaine is a senior at Walnut Hills High School. He started playing guitar at age four and electric bass at age twelve. He was introduced to jazz improvisation when he entered high school and has continued playing this artform since. Jazz has motivated him to have a more serious approach to music and to start playing upright bass.

 

He has participated in jazz groups throughout Cincinnati such as Walnut Hills Jazz Ensemble, CCM Youth Jazz Combo, Tri-State Jazz Combo, Greater Cincinnati Youth Jazz Collaborative, and other local youth groups. He has also played in musicals for his high school.

 

Victor is honored to receive the 2021 Cincinnati Jazz Hall of Fame Scholarship, and is grateful for all the opportunities Cincinnati Jazz Hall of Fame and the “Jazz at Dusk” series has given him to grow as a musician. He would like to thank his peers, family, music directors and teachers for their continued support in his musical endeavors. Next year, Victor Madelaine will be attending the Ohio State University as a mathematics major. He still plans on pursuing music in college and the rest of his life.

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ALEX MERK
drums/piano

The Cincinnati Jazz Hall of Fame:
2021 Elsa Heisel Sule Jazz Studies Scholarship

 

Alex Merk is a senior at Lakota West High School. He began learning piano at age five and started with drums at age nine. In addition to drums and piano, Alex also plays classical and marching percussion, and can be found playing all of these instruments in concert band, jazz band, and marching band at his school.

 

In addition to playing music at his school, Alex has also played in many extracurricular jazz groups, such as the “Jazz at Dusk” Combo, the Dayton Jazz All Stars, and the Tri-State Jazz Ensemble. In addition to these groups, Alex also performs in various local venues.

 

Alex has participated in OMEA District XIII Honor Band and Honor Jazz Band throughout middle school and high school. He is also a two-time member of the OMEA All State Jazz Ensemble, in which he participated on piano.

 

After high school, Alex plans to major in Music Education with a jazz drum set specialization at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. He is grateful for all of his private lessons, teachers over the years, and for his family who has supported him every step of the way. Alex can’t wait to continue his musical journey.