Yamaha Jazz Scholars Night 2011

Yamaha Jazz Scholars 2011. Phot credit: Hayley Madden

Yamaha Jazz Scholars 2011
(Portcullis House SW1, Report by Bruce Lindsay)

Michael Connarty MP and JazzFM’s Helen Mayhew presented the fifth annual Yamaha Jazz Scholar awards at the Houses of Parliament on 13 July. The awards recognise the talents of six newly-graduated musicians, one from each of the full-time jazz degree courses in the UK, who each receive a £1,000 scholarship as well as a chance to record for an album to be distributed with Jazzwise magazine later this year.

The 2011 winners are:

Josh Arcoleo (Royal Academy) – tenor sax
Nick Costley-White (Guildhall) – guitar
Chris Eldred (Trinity) – piano
Chris Hyson (RWCMD) – double bass
Jonathan Silk (Birmingham Conservatoire) – drums
Riley Stone-Lonergan (Leeds College of Music) – tenor sax.

Josh Arcoleo is probably the best known of the Scholars: he’s a member of the Kit Downes Sextet and was awarded the inaugural Kenny Wheeler Prize earlier this month. He also seemed like the most confident of the group when the six Scholars took to the stage, but all of these young musicians displayed obvious promise during their performance.

The evening’s speeches were measured and brief. Bill Martin, from Yamaha, spoke positively and passionately about the awards and the recipients.

Michael Connarty, co-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Jazz Appreciation Group, was similarly positive, as always. He spoke in support of the extension of copyright from 50 to 70 years, to help in protecting the incomes of composers and performers, and also made the evening’s only critical comment. Referring to the Norwegian government’s commitment to the international promotion of its musical talent Connarty criticised the British government’s failure to promote its own music, jazz in particular, on the world stage and suggested that the British Council could do more.

The evening began with a short but upbeat and entertaining set from the Joe Stilgoe Trio. Pianist Stilgoe was in fine voice and it was good to hear bassist Tom Mason and drummer Ben Reynolds showing off their vocal prowess as well as their instrumental talents. The trio’s jazz version of Jessie J’s “Price Tag” was a highlight, even if most of the audience seemed unaware of Jessie J herself: “She’s from the world of pop music” Stilgoe helpfully explained.

2010 Awards Report
Supported by Yamaha Music Education

Categories: miscellaneous

3 replies »

  1. If there's one per jazz degree course, someone should point out to Yamaha that there is also a jazz degree course at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama.

  2. There is indeed a jazz programme at the RSAMD. But it only started in September 2009, I believe, so there are no graduates this year [as I understand it the Yamaha Awards go to students completing a first degree]. As APPJAG Co-Chair Michael Connarty is a Scottish MP for a Scottish constituency I imagine he'll make sure Yamaha know when the first graduates are due to appear [and I expect Tommy Smith might drop a hint too].

  3. Don't worry! Jazzwise is one of the co-organisers of the Yamaha Jazz Scholars, together with APPJAG, Yamaha Music UK and PPL. Each year I contact the Head of Jazz at each of the conservatoires with a full-time jazz degree course to invite them to nominate one final year undergraduate student to be their Yamaha Jazz Scholar. I and my co-organisers are all aware of the jazz degree course course at RSAMD (shortly to be rebranded as the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland). June 2012 will see its first intake of jazz degree students complete the 3-year course and I shall be in touch with Prof. Tommy Smith to invite the RCS's nomination.

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