2024 NJJS Scholarship Winners

June 10, 2024

The New Jersey Jazz Society is pleased to announce the winners of this year’s Juried Scholarship Competition. They are:

$1,000 prize for Performance, Pianist Lasse Corson, Minneapolis, William Paterson University Jazz Studies.

$1,000 prize for Composition, Saxophonist Joseph Foglia, Raleigh, NC, William Paterson
University Jazz Studies.

$500 prize for Performance, Saxophonist Isaac Yi, Leonia, NJ, Princeton University Program in Musical Performance.

$500 prize for Composition, Trumpeter Gabriel Chalick, Naples, FL, Princeton University
Program in Musical Performance

Lasse Corson
When Corson was attending the LaVilla School of the Arts middle school in Jacksonville, FL, his instructor, Christopher Banks, introduced him to the Miles Davis Columbia album, Kind of Blue, featuring Bill Evans and Wynton Kelly on piano. And, Corson’s father bought him Oscar Peterson’s Verve album, Night Train. “Those two records,” he said, “were life changing and were the start to my jazz education.”

After his family moved from Jacksonville to Minneapolis about 11 years ago, Corson continued his jazz education at the Brubeck Jazz Colony, Minnesota Youth Jazz Band, and the MacPhail Dakota Combo, an audition-based jazz combo made up of the region’s top high school jazz musicians. This summer, Corson will be attending the Betty Carter Jazz Ahead Residency at the Kennedy Center.

Corson began playing classical piano, but “the room for imagination and collaboration drew me in, and away from the classical music I was studying before.” Dr. David Demsey, William Paterson Coordinator of Jazz Studies, described Corson as “not just a pianist. He’s a musician who is a pianist. He is a tremendous, imaginative player who can react and excel in many musical situations. He is one of our most busy and in-demand pianists, and it continues to be a joy to have him as a member of the Jazz Program at William Paterson.”

Joseph Foglia
Foglia (photo above) is receiving his second NJJS scholarship. In 2023, he won the $500 prize for Performance. “My favorite thing in the whole world,” he said, “is to play and compose music.” Foglia also got his first exposure to jazz in middle school when the Band Director, Renee Todd, “created an encouraging learning environment. She really started me from a young age thinking that jazz was cool.”

He has been accepted into the BMI Composers Workshop in New York, led by tenor saxophonist Andy Farber and trombonist Alan Ferber. The program enables composers to come together in order to share ideas and to learn from one another. This summer, Foglia will be attending the Brevard (NC) Jazz Institute as a Teaching Assistant. The Institute is led by trombonist Michael Dease, and the Artist in Residence this year is pianist Kenny Barron. Other faculty members include saxophonist Sharel Cassity, guitarist Randy Napoleon, and pianist Luther Allison.

After Brevard, Foglia will be going to Aspen, CO, for Jazz Aspen Snowmass where he’ll be playing in the Afro-Caribbean Big Band led by trumpeter Etienne Charles. Demsey said Foglia is “an imaginative and very advanced composer/arranger for someone of his young age.”

Isaac Yi
While a member of the jazz band at Leonia (NJ) Middle School, Isaac Yi happened to hear Charlie Parker’s “Yardbird Suite”. After that, “Music was never the same for me,” he said. “My mind was blown. I would ecstatically come home looking forward to transcribing his solos.

After middle school, Yi studied at the JCC Thurnauer School of Music in Tenafly, played in the Bergen Technical High School jazz band, and attended the Manhattan School of Music Precollege program.

He graduated with a Jazz Certificate from Princeton in May and hopes to focus on both composing and performing. One dream of his is to recreate the music of the 1995 Verve album, Charlie Parker with Strings. His current saxophone heroes include Seamus Blake, Max Ionata, Mark Turner, and Patrick Bartley.

Rudresh Mahanthappa, Associate Director of Princeton’s Program in Musical Performance, said Yi “is one of the best student musicians I have encountered in my career as a jazz educator. He has great potential to be a shining young voice in this music.”

Gabriel Chalick
Chalick majored in Art History at Princeton, with a minor in Music Performance. “My vision for the future,” he recalled, “was getting a job after graduating and playing music on the side, just for fun.” That has all changed. “As I have gotten to the end of these four years,” he said, “I have realized how much I need music to be omnipresent in my life. I simply can’t live without it.” As a result, Chalick, who grew up in Naples, FL, will be pursuing his Masters Degree in Jazz Performance at Montclair State.

He learned to play the trumpet from the late Dan Miller, a trumpeter in bands led by Harry Connick and Maynard Ferguson. Miller directed the Naples Youth Philharmonic Jazz Orchestra, and, said Chalick, “He taught me standards, improvisation, phrasing and articulation, and the history of jazz. He was incredibly generous with his time and knowledge. He is my trumpet hero — he played with a big fat sound, swung with authority, and was one of the most positive and giving people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.”

Mahanthappa has “had the pleasure of watching Gabriel grow over the past four years. He is an incredibly thoughtful and sensitive trumpet player and composer. His sense of wonder and thirst for exploration, combined with his respect for the tradition of this art form will surely yield superlative and singular work.”
The NJJS Scholarship Competition was open to all New Jersey college students currently enrolled in an undergraduate music program, as well as to New Jersey residents currently enrolled in an out-of-state undergraduate program. Along with the cash awards, these winners will receive guidance, mentorship, and the opportunity to perform with an industry professional. Corson, Foglia, Yi, and Chalick have been invited to perform at the November 3rd Jersey Jazz LIVE! concert in Madison, NJ.

The NJJS Board of Directors would like to thank our esteemed panel of judges: Don Braden, world class tenor saxophonist, flutist, composer, and educator; Ted Chubb, Vice President, Jazz Education + Partnerships Associate Producer, Jazz House Kids, trumpeter, composer and educator; Jason Olaine, Vice President of Programming, Jazz at Lincoln Center; and Mariel Bildsten, trombonist, bandleader, sidewoman, and educator.

We would also like to thank Nan Hughes Poole and NJJS Board Member Cynthia Feketie for their generous support of this initiative. And, we couldn’t have done this without the support of New Jersey college educators who championed this initiative and encouraged their students to participate.


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