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Saxophone virtuoso receives Outstanding Graduate for Creative Project

May 02, 2013

Jack Schwimmer has been playing the saxophone since fourth grade and it can safely be said that he is now a virtuoso.

Schwimmer, a major in saxophone performance and a minor in political science, will graduate in May with a bachelor's degree in music.

For his academic and musical accomplishments, he has been chosen as the Outstanding Graduate for Creative Project by ASU's Barrett, The Honors College, where he is a student.

Schwimmer said he’s honored to receive the award and fortunate to have attended ASU, just a stone’s throw from his hometown of Scottsdale, Ariz.

In addition to ASU, he was offered admittance to University of California, University of Miami, Northwestern University, Tufts University, Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University, New England Conservatory of Music, and the Peabody Conservatory of Music.

“I chose ASU for a variety of reasons," he says. "I knew that I wanted to go somewhere that had a great music program – in particular a saxophone studio professor that could really help me advance – and somewhere that would also challenge me academically.” .

“When I visited Barrett, saw the plans for the new campus to be finished in time for my freshman year, met current students, and sat in on a Human Event class, I knew that this was a community I would really enjoy being a part of. I had a good feeling that I would fit in well here; the students I met were really smart, but also extremely down to earth and fun to be around.

"The faculty and staff seemed to challenge the students intellectually, but also seemed to be very approachable and compassionate. I hoped that the smaller communities of Barrett and the School of Music would make ASU a manageable place, and I'm happy to say that I turned to be out right.”

Schwimmer is not the only one who thinks he made the right choice.

Hanna Creviston, a visiting assistant professor who nominated Schwimmer for the award said, “I can think of no one more deserving of this award than Jack and I am convinced that wherever he goes and in whatever he does, Jack will make this university proud.”

Indeed, Schwimmer’s list of accomplishments is long.

He performs with the Musicfest Quartet, a group of ASU student musicians who travel to local elementary and middle schools to play for students, give demonstrations of various instruments, and encourage young children to join their school band. He also gives weekly jazz saxophone sectionals at Connolly Middle School in Tempe, teaches private saxophone lessons for students ranging in age from nine to 66 years old, plays with the ASU Concert Jazz Band and Saxophone Ensemble, and has performed the National anthem at Oakland Athletics spring training games.

His professional music experience includes working as ensemble manager at the Interlochen Center for the Arts in Michigan.

“I feel strongly that music education can be a positive force in children’s lives, both for its proven effectiveness in raising test scores and increasing intelligence, and also for its inherent intrinsic value," he says. "There is no greater feeling for me than the thrill that comes after a great performance, and I want to share that with younger students.

"In addition, I’ve had the opportunity to meet so many inspiring people that have had a profound effect on me as a musician and as a person.”

Schwimmer has performed with some of those inspiring people to which he refers: Grammy Award-winning jazz guitarist George Benson and members of the R&B super group The Temptations.

“There is nothing like the experience of getting to play with someone like George Benson or The Temptations," he says. "Having grown up listening to their music, it was completely surreal performing songs like 'My Girl' with the same band that recorded them. Moments like those are the reason I love to perform.”

All of this musical work hasn’t detracted from Schwimmer’s academic accomplishments and leadership activities. He is a National Merit Scholar with a 3.97 GPA, a three-time member of the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts Academic Bowl team, a music editor and featured musician for the Lux Undergraduate Creative Review, and a mentor for the Barrett Mentoring Program.

His honors thesis, titled "Forgotten Voices: The Lives, Deaths, and Works of Four Theresienstadt Composers," focused on the work of composers and musicians imprisoned in the Nazi-era Theresienstadt concentration camp in what is now the Czech Republic.

“Receiving this award is a real honor, especially being chosen from among so many amazing students here at Barrett. The fact that faculty thought highly enough of me to nominate me is really great too,” Schwimmer said.

Barrett dean Mark Jacobs said Schwimmer combines musicianship and community service, making him deserving of the award.

“Jack in an incredibly talented musician who lives to bring his joy of music to others, both as pure listening pleasure and as therapy and education,” Jacobs said.

Schwimmer plans to attend graduate school at Southern Methodist University in Dallas for a joint program leading to a master's degree and an MBA in arts management.

“I’d ideally like to start and lead a music education nonprofit, keep playing and teaching,” he said.