Four School District 20 students were selected to perform in the Jan. 26 Colorado All-State Jazz Concert at the Broadmoor International Center.
Sean Applebee, 17, a junior at Rampart High School and Noah Lykins, 17, a senior at Liberty High School played trumpet in the concerts’ Large School All-State Jazz Band. Liberty senior Ben Hunke, 17, played vibes/percussion, and The Classical Academy sophomore Ethan Dunkerton, 15, handled tenor saxophone duties in the Small School All-State Jazz Band.
Sean is the son of Mike Applebee and Vicki Schober. Noah is the son of Daniel and Jill Lykins, and Ben, the son of Paul and Dianne Hunke. Ethan’s parents are Mark and Corrie Dunkerton.
More than 200 music lovers, family and friends attended the 2-hour concert to support the students and congratulate them on their achievement.
“It was a fantastic concert, and so inspiring to see a group of amazing young musicians. Seeing all the kids connect through music has been fun,” Schober said.
Known for its stringent criteria and performance excellence, the All-State Jazz Concert is regarded as Colorado’s ultimate entertainment venue. The students were selected from about 200 musicians from throughout the state, said All-State Jazz Chair Kevin Whitelaw.
“To be one of 38 students from the state to play in one of two jazz bands is a huge personal accomplishment. Our concert was an incredible showcase of the students’ talents,” Whitelaw said.
Sean described his participation as a learning experience. “It is a great opportunity to learn as much as I can from the other amazing players,” he said. “The most important part of the concert is being able to have fun and enjoy jazz music. Being able to perform with such talented musicians is an unparalleled experience and makes playing the music I love even better.”
Trumpet teacher Mark Hammeley and American jazz trumpeter Clifford Brown are among Sean’s musical influences, he said. “The few albums he recorded are the finest examples of jazz you can find,” Sean said of Brown, who died in 1956 at age 25. “His ability to improvise is unparalleled in my opinion and his solos serve as inspiration for my own improve.”
Sean plans to study music and jazz trumpet at Colorado University-Boulder or University of North Texas after high school. “The most important thing I learned is that music is best when musicians are having fun. Just being able to play with a group as talented as the band is an award in itself,” Sean said.
Sean and Noah met in 2014 while performing in the Middle School Honor Jazz Band. After entering different high school the boys went their separate ways. Participating in the 2018 All-City Honor Jazz Band rekindled their friendship.
Noah said participating in the concert was an opportunity to hone improvising techniques and have fun performing with a big band. “It was an unforgettable experience to be included in a group with this level of skill,” he said.
Performing with the band enabled Noah to meet musicians, find gigs and build new relationships with like-minded people, he said. “All-State is not just musicians coming together to play music. They discuss what is going on in their lives, what their aspirations are, and what their plans and goals are for the future,” said Noah, who plans to study early elementary education at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.
For Ben, the concert provided an opportunity to work alongside musicians who share a strong passion for jazz music.
“My dad has had a major impact on my musical career because he introduced me to the vibes,” Ben said. “Some of the jazz greats like (American jazz vibraphonists) Lionel Hampton, Milt Jackson, Gary Burton, and Dave Samuels have been major influences for me as well.”
Ben plans to study mathematics at Utah State University and pursue a career as a U.S. Air Force officer.
Ethan said being performing with talented students and being selected was a fantastic experience. “Getting to contribute to such a devoted community and ensemble and getting to be a part of and learn from them meant a lot to me,” Ethan said. “Everyone from my old piano teachers to my recent saxophone teachers, to my band directors to the many students I’ve gotten to play with and will get to play with has influenced my understanding and love of music in some form.”
Ethan plans to attend either the University of Northern Colorado-Greeley or Berklee College of Music in Boston after graduation. “I would like to continue performing jazz, but I’d like to go into music education,” he said.