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Huntington Sophomore Rises in Jazz World

Collin Richardson (top row left with glasses) stands with an elite group of young musicians at the Ithaca College jazz invitational. ( click to enlarge)

Considering his maturity and talent, it’s a little hard to believe that Collin Richardson is only a sophomore at Huntington High School. The teenager is rising in the world of jazz, spending hours each day immersed in every facet of music and he’s gaining admirers along the way.

“A few weeks before the start of school this year, I was looking online at different music schools and found Ithaca College and saw that their jazz studies director was hosting a high school jazz invitational for individual musicians,” said Mr. Richardson who is on his way to becoming a top trombone player.

The Ithaca event intrigued the teenager. “They wanted an audition CD of certain music and though I was working on writing and recording music, I knew I wouldn’t have time to prepare all the music they wanted so I e-mailed Harold Reynolds, the trombone professor, an MP3 of one of my songs and asked if he thought I should apply with what I already had recorded,” Mr. Richardson said.

Well, Professor Reynolds enjoyed the song and liked how Mr. Richardson played his instrument. The professor forwarded the e-mail to Mike Titlebaum, Ithaca’s director of jazz studies.

“Professor Titlebaum also encouraged me to send in the rest of the CD and was pleased that I was starting to get into composing, being a very accomplished composer himself,” Mr. Richardson said. “I spent the next two weeks finishing the CD in order to get it in by the deadline and then had to wait to hear back from them.”

The suspense finally ended when an e-mail arrived inviting the Huntington teenager to attend the festival. Mr. Richardson was given an opportunity to perform in Ford Hall at the Whalen Center on Ithaca’s campus with 16 other elite high school musicians from New York and Philadelphia.

Mr. Richardson said he’s proud to have participated in the first Ithaca College School of Music High School All-Star Jazz Big Band. “At 9 a.m. we started to rehearse the four songs we were to perform that night,” the Huntington sophomore said. “During the day we also got to listen to the faculty quartet, have a master class with the various professors, tour the music department, have lunch in the cafeteria and work with students from the Ithaca jazz ensemble.”

Worthwhile Experience

The experience was well worth the long trip to central New York. “It was an amazing day and we got a huge amount of work done,” Mr. Richardson said. “Professor Mike Titlebaum is a phenomenal sax player and is a very funny, energetic and focused teacher and the group really improved over the course of the day.”

The long day culminated at 7 p.m. with a performance that tied together everything the group had learned. “Ithaca is a school that I might like to go to if I decide to continue in music at the college level,” Mr. Richardson said. “The level of musicianship was very high and everyone was very encouraging and enthusiastic.”

The sophomore is interested in music technology and composition and perhaps a career in film scoring. “Collin is an amazingly talented and mature young man,” said Joan R. Fretz, Huntington’s district director of fine and performing arts. “He loves composing.”

This past fall the teenager played in the Huntington High School pep band and was allowed to do a bit of arranging of songs he wrote for the homecoming day football game. “It was fun hearing a whole group playing it and everyone in the pep band was a good sport about it, even though everyone in the crowd was much more interested in the Devils’ winning the game,” Mr. Richardson joked.

Life is Busy

Life is busy for the Huntington teenager. He auditioned and was accepted to play in the Gemini Concert Winds in Melville, which holds its year-end concert at Alice Tully Hall in Lincoln Center. “I am looking forward to that,” Mr. Richardson said. “There are some really great student musicians in this group from around Suffolk and I enjoy playing with them and learning from the director, Michael Canipe who is also a trombone player.”

Mr. Richardson also auditioned and was accepted into the Nassau-Suffolk County Performing Arts Jazz Ensemble. “We get to work with William Katz, who is a legendary teacher and musician,” the teenager said. “I missed the first rehearsal and when I sat down and played for the first time with the group at the second rehearsal I couldn’t believe the sound. Most of the guys are juniors and seniors so I feel very fortunate to be a part of this group.”

The group’s last concert of the season will be held at the Tilles Center on the C.W. Post campus. It seems a safe to say that Mr. Richardson has many more such concerts in his future.

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