Summertime and There’s Plenty of Music

This summer, Rivers’ jazz students have been attending a variety of summer jazz camps to advance their musical skills. Close to home, Calvin Carswell ’21, Kevin Kamanitz ’21, Calvin Smith ’21, and Jack Willard ’24, are all enrolled in the Rivers School Conservatory’s Summer Jazz Program, along with new Conservatory Program students, Frank Kasparian Weisman ’22 and Ethan Kasparian Weisman ’24. They’ve all enjoyed the mentoring of Rivers alumnus John Nydam ’15, a rising junior at Princeton University, who is majoring in music with certificates (minors) in jazz studies and computer science.
“It feels great to be back at Rivers helping out with the Rivers Summer Jazz Program,” Nydam commented. “I definitely feel like I can relate with these campers since I was also a student of the Conservatory Program during my time at Rivers. While I didn’t personally attend the Rivers Summer Jazz Program, I know what it feels like to be a jazz student in Conservatory Program during the academic year. Some of these campers are actually current Rivers students as well, so I can’t help but think of myself when I see them walking around the music building.” 

Meanwhile, Joel Manasseh ’20, Michael Manasseh ’19, and Will Randall ’21, are taking advantage of the scholarships they received after earning First Place with the Honors Big Band at the 2018 Berklee High School competition to attend Berklee’s five-week summer program. Michael Manasseh was also selected to join the prestigious Terri Lynn Carrington five-week summer program at Berklee as a result of his outstanding musicianship.

In addition, Michael was selected by audition to join the Vail Jazz Workshop in Colorado and will perform at the Vail Jazz Festival this August. He will also join Joe Nedder to perform for the second year in a row at the Newport Jazz Festival as part of the Massachusetts All-State Jazz Band.

“All in all, a great summer of music for Rivers jazz students,” commented Jazz Director Philippe Crettien.

Nydam was a member of Rivers’ Conservatory Program and performed with the Big Band and Select 1 Combo, winning numerous individual musicianship awards at competitions including the Mingus, Berklee, MAJE, and District festivals, while the ensembles themselves picked up many awards. He was chosen to play with the All-National Jazz Ensemble and was one of six international winners of the MATA Jr. composition competition.

“I attended the Interlochen Summer Arts Camp during the summer of 2012, for one of their three-week jazz sessions, before I enrolled in Rivers,” reflected Nydam, looking back on his own summer experiences. “The camp had elements similar to Rivers Summer Jazz, like daily masterclasses, improv classes, and ensemble rehearsals. Some of the material that students are learning at Rivers was material that I was first introduced to at Interlochen, so memories from there are certainly refreshed. As for my summers at Tanglewood, I was studying classical composition there, so the experience would have been much different than what current summer music students are going through.

[Rivers alum and violinist Graydon Hewitt ’17, who received the Classical Music Prize as a senior is also working at the Conservatory this summer, sharing his expertise and experience in Rivers’ classical summer program. He played violin in the Upper School Chamber Orchestra which competed at the international Canada MusicFest in 2017, earning the orchestra a Gold Medal and Hewitt an Honor Award.]

“I am a current member of the university jazz program, led by alto saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa, and I have played in both big band and smaller combo groups,” continued Nydam. “I am also a member of Princeton’s Undergraduate Composer’s Collective and will be hired as a rehearsal pianist for two university theatre productions happening next fall. 

Is music part of his future?

“At the moment, I have no definite plans after I graduate since it’s still two years away for me, but music/jazz education is certainly an avenue I’m considering!”