Seven new music scholarship recipients named

Seven new music scholarship recipients named

The Justin Veatch Fund announced Monday it
is awarding seven music scholarships in June to graduating high school students from
five area high schools. The recipients, selected from a competitive field of applicants,
are Taylor Setterstrom and Jacob Krauss from Somers High School, Richard (“Jake”)
Leis and Noah Crosby Solomon from Pleasantville High School, Lexi Ann from North
Salem High School, Mia Williams from Westlake High School, and Julia Levin from The
Masters School.
More than 55 music scholarships awarded since 2009
“We’re thrilled to be able
to continue honoring my brother’s legacy by celebrating young musicians and helping
them offset the costs of pursuing their dreams,” says board member Elena Veatch.
While The Justin Veatch Fund will not host an in-person award ceremony this year due
to Covid-19, the organization looks forward to delivering each recipient a $1,000 check
and an award that doubles as a working metronome.


The 2021 award recipients
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Lexi Ann is graduating from North Salem High School and plans to attend Belmont
University’s Mike Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business to pursue a major
in songwriting. Sharing her excitement about joining a community of songwriters, Lexi
said of her journey in music so far: “I know that I’ve just scratched the surface, waiting to
unlock so much potential lyric power underneath.” She looks forward to honing her craft
and incorporating her vocals, guitar, ukulele, piano, and saxophone into a colorful
portfolio of original songs. One teacher lauded Lexi’s ability to harness music to get
through difficult times, sharing: “We all have known and worked with special students,
but every once in a while one comes along who is simply extraordinary… Lexi is such a
student.”

Jacob Krauss is graduating from Somers High School and plans to attend either
Georgia Tech or Ohio State University in the fall. He is a guitarist and singer who has
expanded his talents to other instruments and became deeply involved in producing
music through collaborations. After signing up for a music theory class at Somers High
School, Jacob became involved with his school’s jazz ensemble, concert and chamber
choir. He calls himself a music nerd and formed a band with three other friends who
held their first live performance just before the Covid-19 pandemic shut down live music.
Going the virtual route to continue his passion, he organized Quarantine Collab, a
YouTube cover series, in which he enlisted other local talent to provide a bright spot in
his community. One of his music teachers says Jacob has become one of her most
advanced students and has inspired her to be an even better teacher.


Richard (“Jake”) Leis is graduating from Pleasantville High School and plans to
pursue jazz studies and performance at the University of Rochester’s Eastman School
of Music with the goal of becoming a lifelong performer and educator. Jake is a baritone
saxophone performer who has excelled in the WCSMA All-County Jazz Big Band, the
Pleasantville High School Honors Jazz Band, and the Lagond Music School. Jake’s
introduction to jazz, Latin, and funk music helped him grow and inspired him to prioritize
music in his daily routines. On Jake’s proclivity for music, one teacher shared: “Jake is
one of those people who doesn’t want to be a musician, he has to be a musician.”

Julia Levin is graduating from the Masters School and plans to attend the Thornton
School of Music at the University of Southern California in the fall. She is a guitarist who
thrives on playing live music and collaborating with other musicians, though she is also
an accomplished solo artist. Her honors include winning the Fender X Splice Loop
Contest, being a featured artist on Norman’s Rare Guitars’ YouTube channel, and
presenting a 2019 TedX talk on the lack of respect for female guitarists. Julia received
numerous honors while attending the Lagond Music School. Nikke Slight, the General
Manager of VERO Music, says Julia’s potential for greatness is undeniable. Julia’s goal
is to tour, perform, and collaborate with other artists while working behind the scenes
supporting others in the music business.


Taylor Setterstrom is graduating from Somers High School and plans to attend SUNY
New Paltz in the fall. Taylor’s primary musical interest is drums but she also plays guitar.
She says she is generally shy and introverted, and that music enabled her to make
many friends that she would have never made otherwise. Since she auditioned for the
house band at School of Rock in Bedford, she became a key team player in developing
new techniques and skills which she has put to use in community events and
fundraisers for good causes. One of her music teachers says Taylor’s commitment to
excellence in music came about through hard work and talent. Last year, Taylor was a
winning finalist in her age group in the international competition “Hit Like a Girl” for
female drummers. She says she may pursue music therapy so she can give back to the
community while pursuing her passion for work in music.


Noah Crosby Solomon is graduating from Pleasantville High School and plans to
pursue performance and music production at Berklee School of Music (and later, a
master’s degree in music education). A guitarist, Noah has excelled in settings such as
the Lagond Music School, the Pleasantville High School Honors Jazz Band, and the
Westchester All-County Jazz Band. One teacher spoke of Noah’s tendency to dedicate
his lunch or free periods to talking about music and jazz in the band room. Another
teacher said Noah is “a musical truth-seeker, a strong critical thinker, who has humility.”


Mia Williams is graduating from Westlake High School and plans to pursue jazz and
contemporary music with a concentration in voice at either the Berklee School of Music
or The New School. Mia is president and soloist in her high school’s select jazz choir, a
leading performer in Westlake Players, and the lead singer of West Lake Rock Band.
One teacher called Mia “one of the top vocalists and most talented musicians I have
had the pleasure of teaching in my 34-year career.” Another teacher compared Mia’s
growth with that of established Broadway vocalists.

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