We were excited to hear that one of our former students, pianist & vocalist Emma Grace Stephenson, has won the prestigious Freedman Jazz Fellowship for 2017. Emma came to jazz camp and, inspired by the experience, came to JWA for piano lessons and to join our jazz combo program. She was accepted into the jazz studies course at the Sydney Conservatorium and continues to excel. She is one of the most exciting pianists & composers on the Australian jazz scene today, and co-leads one of the most exciting groups, the Hieronymus trio.
Emma’s colleagues in Hieronymous drummer Oli Nelson and bassist Nick Henderson are also JWA alumni; in fact, they all played together as students in the JWA advanced combo. Every member of that combo went on to become a professional jazz player.
More than anything just meeting people my age who played jazz, through Jazz Camp and Jazz Workshop classes was where I drew most of my motivation.
The two other finalists in the Freedman Jazz Fellowship also have JWA connections: Trumpet player Ellen Kirkwood taught trumpet at JWA for a number of years (she was also my assistant conductor in the NSW Arts Unit stage band back in the day). Nick Garbett, another trumpeter, came to jazz camps as a student.
We are very proud of all three of them, but especially Emma. It is so pleasing to see our former students doing so well. Congratulations Emma!