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Pinkerton saxophone player receives national honor

DERRY — Pinkerton Academy junior Adam Claussen says he was initially inspired to begin playing the saxophone in fifth grade after listening to jazz legend Charlie Parker.

Now Claussen’s devotion to music has earned him a place on the prestigious All-National Honor Ensembles, the first time a student from the school has received the honor, said Chip Underhill, Pinkerton’s executive director of public affairs.

The ensembles represent the top performing high school musicians in the United States and are scheduled to perform later this month in Nashville.

Claussen said the ensembles are similar to the All-State Honor Ensembles in New Hampshire. Although he prefers jazz, Claussen auditioned for the classical ensemble and submitted a video online. Students were required to submit a two-minute selection of the piece used for their all-state audition.

Claussen said he later heard he had won a spot on the national ensemble.

He has been practicing a lot more lately as he prepares to make the trip to Nashville, and he has to submit a re-auditioned recording by midnight Friday to determine seat placement. Claussen said he and a friend from Maine are competing, in a friendly way, for that seat.

“So we’re not really fighting over the chair or anything,” he said. “We are just kind of seeing what happens. So I’ll either be top or second. It’s up to the judges. So I’m just submitting three recordings of what I’m doing.”

Since he is much more familiar with jazz, Claussen said he didn’t know of the classical composers the recordings will be based on.

“Classical-wise, I don’t have a huge pallet of inspiration,” Claussen said. “I think jazz is my real passion. I want to ultimately end up doing more with jazz.”

After high school, Claussen said he hopes to major in jazz studies and possibly minor in another musical area. He said he is considering a few music schools, including the Manhattan School of Music and Eastman School of Music.

“I want to do whatever will come my way — anything music-wise,” he said.

Ultimately, Claussen said he would like to become a college music professor.

The All-National Honor Ensembles are scheduled to run from Sunday, Oct. 27, to Wednesday, Oct. 30.


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