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By Peter Leggett, Walker West Music Academy

On Sunday, May 19th Walker West Music Academy held its first annual Reverend Carl Walker and Grant West Honors Recital. Held at Camphor United Methodist Church in Saint Paul, the event was created by the Academy’s faculty committee to honor and celebrate select Academy students and those in particular that are graduating from high school as a way of sending them off.

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With an audience of nearly 100,  this year’s inaugural event started with violinist Saliem Hashel, an 8th grader who has studied with the Academy’s violin instructor Earl Ross for nearly 5 years. Saliem performed Vericini’s Gigue flawlessly accompanied by pianist Mike Vasich. It set the bar very high for the student performers who would follow her.

Up next was 8th grade pianist Jordan Anderson who performed an improvisation on Wayne Shorter’s Footprints.  Jazz ensemble instructor Solomon Parham who works with Jordan in the Academy’s Saturday Jazz Ensemble commented after the performance on how much Jordan has grown as an improvisor in recent years.

Following Jordan was Evelyna Rosario, a relative new comer to the Academy who studies voice with William Duncan.  Performing a rendition of Greatest Love of All by Masser / Creed that was made famous by Whitney Houston, Evelyna’s soulful vocals brought the audience to their feet following her performance.

Andy Broadnax, a graduating senior at the Nova Classical Academy was next performing Invention No. 5 by Bach.  Andy’s mother Carol shared with Academy staff that she couldn’t believe how far Andy had come in his brief time learning piano at the Academy.

To wrap up the solo section of the event, graduating seniors Jack Breen and DeCarlo Jackson each presented a jazz ensemble selection. Considered by many to be the Academy’s two top improvisors, Jack and DeCarlo astounded the audience with their performances.

After a brief intermission, Academy co-founders Reverend Carl Walker and Grant West presented honors awards to graduating seniors. Executive director Peter Leggett also presented Jack Breen with the inaugural Rev. Carl Walker and Grant West Honors Award, a new Academy award that will be given annually to those students who have demonstrated outstanding musical growth and leadership.

To close out the event, the Academy’s Monday Jazz Ensemble provided a fantastic jazz set showcasing why they are some of the most respected and in-demand youth improvisors in the Twin Cities.

To check out the full photo album of the event, go to the Academy’s Facebook page. For more information about Walker West Music Academy and its history, please visit us at www.WalkerWestMusicAcademy.org.  Also like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

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