News and Notes
Bassist Justin Berger-Davis ’16 and vocalist Jewellyn Pickett ’17 had some exciting summer adventures to tell us about! Each was involved in a variety of musical events, rehearsals and performances with like-minded peers.
Justin had the opportunity to go to two music camps this summer, Grammy Camp and the Stanford Jazz Workshop. While playing on a video audition for a friend, he found out about the Grammy Camp and decided to send in his own video. This landed him a spot among 75 other music students who spent ten days on the campus at USC learning about the music business, digital formats, attending masterclasses and playing and performing with top musicians and producers in the business. At the Stanford Workshop, Justin participated in theory classes, an Afro-Cuban workshop and met the legendary saxophonist Jimmy Heath who imparted an urgency about practicing, that, “if you’re gonna get ahead, you’ve got to practice.” Participating in these summer workshops solidified for Justin an interest in pursuing music as a career. In addition, Justin performs with his own band, Serenegades, who won the “Rock for PEF (Pasadena Educational Foundation)” contest, and with the Pasadena Youth Orchestra.
This season marks the 8th for Jewellyn Pickett ’17, member of the Los Angeles Children’s Chorus. She sings with the Concert Choir, the most advanced of the choirs that offer top-notch vocal instruction to students ages 8 to 18. This summer Jewellyn toured Germany and London for 12 days, returned home and embarked on rehearsals for two performances at the Hollywood Bowl with Los Angeles Philharmonic Maestro Gustavo Dudamel and composer John Williams. She recently participated in the opening gala for the Los Angeles Philharmonic as they honored John Williams, singing his composition “Dry Your Tears, Afrika,” from the movie “Amistad.” Jewellyn has also performed with the Los Angeles Opera in “Carmen” and “The Prodigal Son.” In addition to learning about music theory and vocal technique, she has learned to manage her time effectively. When performing with the opera, she would often be in long rehearsals which meant that she had to figure out how to get her homework done.
Performing with professional musicians, she said, “rubs off on you — they're happy to be there and they're such good musicians.” She has long relished the opportunity to perform with peers who are like-minded when it comes to music. During the tour of London and Germany, she loved the experiences of singing in cathedrals where you could hear the echo, and performing with the Winsbacher Boys Choir, creating a full choir with four voice parts.
Percussionists Naman Casas ’18 and Isaac Caldas ’17 and bassist Samuel Christopher ’18 recently participated in a performance of “Cloudburst” composed by Eric Whitacre with the Pasadena Master Chorale. The piece is a contemporary programmatic work that centers around various images of water, with the replication of a thunderstorm as the main focus. Isaac played the bass drum, Sam the wind chimes and Naman the thunder sheet to help create the soundscape of a thunderstorm. The performance was part of the two-week AXS Festival 2014, sponsored by the Pasadena Arts Council, an innovative melding of artistic and scientific inquiry.
Trumpeter Rory Ziehler-Martin ’15, violist Jad Nachabe ’16, percussionist Isaac Caldas ’17, bassists Justin Berger-Davis ’16 and Julian Malaby ’17 were named to the Pasadena Youth Symphony this past fall.