Trombonists slide their way to fame

Sydney Laubscher

When thinking of a college band, the images of football games and show tunes can come to mind. However, one group of musicians broke boundaries with their accomplishments this past year.DSC_0012

The University of Akron Jazz Trombone Quintet have entered themselves in the Kai Winding Jazz Trombone Ensemble competition for three years in a row. The past two years they were awarded second place, but finally earned their current first place position.

The piece played for the competition was composed by the jazz and composition professor at Youngstown State University, Dave Morgan, and was a three movement suite. The quintet recorded the composition and sent it to the International Trombone Association, where a set of judges chose the winner.

For a limited time, a clip of the ensemble’s winning performance can be heard at The University of Akron School of Music’s website at

What exactly did the quintet win? In June the ensemble gets to travel to Columbus, Ga. and play at the International Trombone Association Festival, where thousands of people will hear the group play.DSC_0016

This is not only a great opportunity for the trombonists to get noticed, but it also shows how prestigious The University of Akron’s music
program is and how much the students here can accomplish.

The trombonists, Max Brady, Jason Hadgis, Brian Griffin, Greg Kern and Sam Blakeslee, all seemed proud of their win, as did accompanists Sam McKenzie on drums, Alexandria Davies on piano and Elizabeth Hough on bass.

“We’ve all worked really hard for this, and I’m so proud that our group has made it this far,” said Brady. “We finally won: joining the ranks of past winners such as the Eastman School of Music, The University of North Texas, Rutgers University, University of Illinois, and Julliard School of Music.”

The trip to Georgia and the possibility of fame both come with this strong dedication to music, but these aren’t the only advantages the group
is seeing.

Aside from the Kai Winding Trombone competition, the ensemble has been noticed in another way.

Under the director of UA professor Jack Schantz, the ensemble was invited to perform at the 2013 German Music Festival in Chemnitz, Germany. They will be leaving towards the end of June, and will get to stay for five days.

This festival will be an educational and enlightening experience for the group, drawing in a 150,000 person audience and over 15,000 musicians.

The ensemble’s food and lodging will be covered, but about $7,000 still needs to be raised for additional expenses. In this regard, Akron and Chemnitz have promised to try and help the ensemble with this unbelievable opportunity. It’s easy to see how thrilling this experience will be.

“I feel excited and grateful – excited to travel abroad for the first time, experience a new culture, to share music with a new crowd, and grateful to have the opportunity to do so,” says Hadgis. “It’s humbling to know that other people care about our group and want us to have this experience. With that in mind, I’m going to give it my all on this trip and create something really enjoyable for everyone to listen to.”

It’s incredible that The University of Akron has the privilege to have representation not only nationally, but internationally as well. This really shows the standard to which students here should be held.