Monterey and Boston, Sept. 4, 2007 — Berklee College of Music and the Monterey Jazz Festival announced today that drummer Jonathan Pinson of Los Angeles, California is the eleventh recipient of the Jimmy Lyons Scholarship at Berklee, a major music education prize. The scholarship is named in honor of the festival’s late founder, James L. (Jimmy) Lyons, who began the festival 50 years ago with jazz education at its core.
The Lyons Scholarship is awarded each year -- after thorough live auditions at the Next Generation Festival in the spring -- to one California music student, in recognition of their outstanding talent. Because it is a full-tuition, renewable award, satisfactory academic and musical progress in each successive year will allow each Lyons Scholar to attend Berklee through graduation, entirely tuition-free.
2007 Lyons Scholarship winner Jonathan Pinson is a gifted drummer, who graduated this past spring from Hamilton High School in Los Angeles, and has studied music primarily at the Colburn School of the Performing Arts, also in Los Angeles. At the Colburn School, Jonathan was the first student ever to win a merit scholarship for the drum set, which he continued to earn from 2001 through 2007.
Jonathan has just begun his collegiate music education this month at Berklee in Boston. One of the college’s trustees, Bill Holodnak, will join Carsbia Anderson, chair of the Festival’s Education Committee, and Festival General Manager Tim Jackson in making the presentation to Pinson on Sunday, September 23 at 2:00 pm, on the Jimmy Lyons Stage.
Nicknamed “Spoons” at the age of two, for his first choice of musical instrument, Jonathan accompanied his mother’s choir on every surface he could reach. He began his formal music training at the age of six with instruction on the piano, and moved to the drum set in 1999 with instruction by Jerry Kalaf, at the Colburn School. Jonathan was very fortunate to have had the opportunity to study with the great Billy Higgins, at the World Stage in Los Angeles, before he died.
Jonathan has performed with the Jazz America Big Band, under the direction of Richard Simon and Roger Neumann, and with The Monday Night Band, at the Colburn School. He has also performed with such notable artists as John Clayton, Barbara Morrison, Nolan Shaheed, and Dwight Tribble.
At the age of 15, Jonathan began mentoring young percussion enthusiasts and helped conduct jazz workshops for inner city youths at area public elementary schools. In August 2007, he voluntarily organized a jazz benefit to support the NAACP/ACT-SO organization.
Jonathan has performed at venues such as the Jazz Bakery, Catalina’s Bar & Grill, the House of Blues, and the Ford Amphitheatre. Under the direction of Marcus Miller, he has performed at the annual LuLu Washington Kwanzaa Celebration in 2003 and 2004. Jonathan has his own band, the TDJ Quintet, which stands for “teenagers diggin” jazz,” with four other young, Los Angeles-area musicians.
He began composing at an early age and has performed one of his first jazz compositions, entitled “One for McCoy,” at the 2007 Music Center’s Spotlight Award, for which he was awarded first place in the Jazz Instrumental category. He has also received the regional award for Best Contemporary Instrumental from the NAACP/ACT-SO Altadena branch. In 2006 Jonathan received the Omni Youth Award for Best Percussion Solo.
Auditions for the Lyons Scholarship were via submission of an audition tape to the Berklee Scholarship Committee, which selected a group of 30 young Californians for live audition in Monterey. The students selected to audition are required to file an application for admission to Berklee, which must be approved by the college in order to compete for the scholarship. Auditions were held on the weekend of March 22 - 25, 2007, during the Festival’s annual Next Generation Festival, and were conducted, as always, by senior Berklee faculty who come to California exclusively for this purpose. The college also awarded several other, significant tuition scholarships at the auditions.