Nanaimo’s Kenton Dick is the first Canadian to be awarded the Jimmy Lyons Scholarship to Berklee College of Music in Boston.
The scholarship is named in honour of James L. Lyons, founder of the Monterey Jazz Festival, and has only previously been awarded to American students.
“Myself and my family, we all had a bit of a jaw-dropping reaction to hearing the news about the scholarship,” said Dick. “It’s really rewarding. I’m really excited to go to Berklee.”
The scholarship provides Dick with full tuition for four years while he pursues his performance degree at the college as long as he keeps a specific grade point average. He hopes to pursue a double major, adding composition to his studies.
“From a parent’s perspective I can’t tell you how blessed we feel to have that,” said Dick’s mother Michelle. “I get a little emotional talking about it.”
One year of tuition is about $60,000, said his mother.
The jazz saxophonist previously made history in April with Nanaimo drummer Ethan Olynyk when the Wellington Jazz Academy duo became the first Canadian group to ever win best high school combo at the Next Generation Jazz Festival, which is affiliated with the Monterey Jazz Festival. They were also both awarded outstanding soloist awards.
Dick and Olynyk were invited to perform at the 59th annual Monterey Jazz Festival, which runs Sept. 16-18 in Monterey, Calif., because of their win at the Next Generation Festival.
As the Jimmy Lyons Scholarship winner attending Berklee, Dick will also perform with Berklee’s band onstage.
“That’s awesome because those are accomplished Berklee students who were chosen to be representatives and now I get to represent with them,” said Dick.
He qualified for the scholarship because he is a Berklee student, going to school this fall, attending the Monterey Jazz Festival. He is also receiving a scholarship from Berklee to cover his on-campus living expenses.
Dick will be presented the Lyons scholarship onstage at the Monterey Jazz Festival.
He has big dreams for the future.
“The goal is to lead my own big band, compose for multiple groups and genres and perform often,” said Dick. “And I would also like to come back to Nanaimo and do workshops and teach students … I don’t want to just pick up and go to the States and not come back.”
Dick is hoping to compose both jazz and orchestral music.
“I want to know the ins and outs of everything to do with composition, so I want to know all sorts of styles,” he said.
Dick said there were several mentors over the years who helped him and created opportunities for him.
“The one that taught me the most over the years was Steve Jones,” said Dick. “He’s been my private instructor for five years.”
Dick said he can’t stress enough how Carmella Luvisotto, director of Wellington Jazz Academy, has helped him.
“At Wellington, Carmella Luvisotto my band teacher has created countless opportunities over the years in high school,” he said.
Another instrumental mentor is Christian Fabian.
“He came to school and he was extremely willing to give us any advice on what we were playing and learning,” said Dick. “He influenced most of the arrangements, most of the songs we played throughout high school and he gave us new ideas.”
He also received private lessons from Larry Miller from Grade 5-7 and attended workshops led by Christine and Ingrid Jensen.