Photos by: Melissa Dispenza
Deirdre Chadwick, President of the BMI Foundation, and Mike O’Neill, President and CEO of Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) and Honorary Chair of the BMI Foundation, announced today the establishment of the BMI Future Jazz Master Scholarship, to benefit emerging jazz performers.
BMI recently donated $5,000 to the BMI Foundation to fund a new scholarship in honor of the NEA Jazz Masters Fellowship, a lifetime achievement recognition program of the National Endowment for the Arts. Since 1982, the NEA has acknowledged living legends of jazz music with this award, widely considered to be the nation’s paramount accolade for jazz artists.
“For thirty years, the BMI Foundation has devoted itself to supporting both the cultural legacy and the creation of American music,” said Chadwick. “Jazz remains one of our nation’s most original and enduring art forms, and this new scholarship is a fitting way for BMI to pay tribute to the artistic excellence of jazz pioneers, while opening the door for the brightest jazz stars of tomorrow.”
The scholarship was presented for the very first time on April 20th, 2015 at the annual NEA Jazz Masters Luncheon in New York City, hosted by BMI in celebration of the 2015 Jazz Masters honorees. Aaron Hedenstrom, a second-year musical arts doctoral candidate in Jazz Performance at the University of North Texas, was selected as the winner by a panel of NEA Jazz Masters and flown to New York to attend the Luncheon alongside influential figures in the world of jazz. This year’s judging panel included jazz icons Ahmad Jamal and Jack DeJohnette.
Hedenstrom remarked on winning the award, “Receiving the BMI Future Jazz Master Scholarship was one of the most inspiring experiences I’ve ever had as a musician. I can’t express how much it means to me to have the support of one of the premier organizations in all of music, and their scholarship will help me to continue and grow as a musician for years to come. The Foundation was extremely generous and made it possible to meet some major people in the jazz community, with a trip to New York City. I am extremely grateful for the award and for the experiences that come along with it—the BMI Foundation is doing wonderful things!”
A sample of Hedenstrom’s recent performances can be heard below:
Saxophonist and composer Aaron Hedenstrom has been composing, arranging, and performing music across the United States professionally for over a decade. At age 26, Hedenstrom has received several awards for his compositions and arrangements, including the Herb Alpert ASCAP Young Jazz Composer Award, the Detroit Jazz Festival Composition Contest, multiple Downbeat Awards, the Jazz Education Network Student Composer Showcase, and most recently, the BMI Future Jazz Master Scholarship. Hedenstrom has written numerous big band works, string arrangements, small group pieces, and chamber works. His collaborations have included the University of North Texas One O’Clock Lab Band, renowned singer Marlene Verplanck, and Starbucks artist of the week S. Carey. Hedenstrom has also done MIDI production work for Happy Days actor/musician Don Most, for an upcoming performance series. In addition, he has recorded and performed with his own big band, the Aaron Hedenstrom Orchestra.
Hedenstrom has been featured as a guest artist by universities such as Wichita State University and Eastern Washington University and performed at top-tier jazz venues nationwide, including the Dakota Jazz Club, Snug Harbor, the Next Generation Jazz Festival, Scat Jazz Lounge, and others. He also performed with the University of North Texas One O’Clock Lab Band, touring the country together for two years.
Hedenstrom recently released his debut album as a saxophonist, A Moment of Clarity, on Shifting Paradigm Records. The album features his elaborate yet heartfelt compositions and includes some of the most talented and accomplished young musicians in the country. For more information, visit Aaron’s website.