LA sophomore Cooper Schwartzentruber, who plays saxophone, participated in the 2021 Maine Music Educators All-State Jazz Festival, which was virtual this year.

Sophomore Cooper Schwartzentruber was the only Lincoln Academy musician to be selected for the Maine Jazz All State Jazz Festival this year. The festival took place virtually in early February.

Cooper Schwartzentruber '23 participating in the 2021 All-State Jazz Festival via Zoom.

Cooper Schwartzentruber ’23 participating in the 2021 All-State Jazz Festival via Zoom.

Schwartzentruber plays alto, tenor, and baritone saxophone, and was selected for All-State Jazz on alto this year, one of only five alto sax players in the state. The audition required a video submission. “It was unlike any other audition I’ve taken before,” he said. “Setting up all the equipment, such as a clock in the background to prove I wasn’t cheating, was a little weird. But one of the upsides to having a virtual audition is that I could try multiple takes and see which one I liked the best as opposed to having only one chance.”

“Unlike most years when we have more time for rehearsal, we did not prepare for the all-state audition in class,” said LA Band Director Liz Matta. “Students did most of their prep at home. Cooper is very driven to succeed, and he takes on multiple non-school related music opportunities. He worked hard and did very well.”

In 2020 Schwartzentruber also qualified for the Classical All State Festival, which will take place virtually in May, as well as playing first chair alto sax in the Portland Youth Wind Ensemble (PYWE), which is also virtual this year.

Musicians who qualified were divided into small combos and had a single instructor who helped them learn a piece for performance. Instructors tried to accomplish the same goals as they would for an in-person festival: offering a three-day jazz master class in both music theory and jazz performance. Schwartzentruber’s instructor was Rob Tapper, a trombone professor at the University of Montana.

Usually combos learn and rehearse three pieces during the festival, but this year they only did one, Brother Mister by Christian McBride, which was sent out in advance of the festival to give students time to prepare. “I made sure I was solid on the music before the festival so that I didn’t show up clueless,” said Schwartzentruber. “I listened to many different recordings in addition to playing it over numerous times.”

Even with a different format, Schwartzentruber found the All State Jazz festival to be an excellent musical opportunity. “I learned so many new things between master classes and rehearsals, that I had to take a lot of notes just to soak it all in and remember all the info,” he said. “I knew a lot of the people attending the festival either from the USM summer camp I go to every summer (minus this past summer) or from previous festivals. I also did meet some new people I liked because we all bonded over the same thing.”

“It really is amazing that these festivals are still happening,” said Matta. “And while it is not the same experience as it would be in-person, it is still very high quality and a great educational experience for students. Cooper is an excellent and motivated musician, and he is very accomplished, especially considering he is only a sophomore this year. I hope that he will get the opportunity to experience these festivals in person over the next two years–he deserves that.”