My name is Nicholas Pennington, I’m a Jazz Guitarist/Composer. In December 2016 I undertook a mentorship in New York City with renowned Saxophonist/Composer Will Vinson, supported by the Helpmann Academy.
From the beginning of my time as a student of jazz, I was made aware that to develop the knowledge and experience required to play this music, one must spend time in New York City. The epicentre of the development of jazz, past and present. I was fortunate enough to see Will Vinson perform with my teacher James Muller, while I was in the second year of my Bachelor of Music at The University of Adelaide. This experience instilled a desire to at some point, spend some time studying with him.
With the end of my Honours year approaching, I decided it was the perfect time to broaden the knowledge and experience gained at university and spend some time studying in New York City. However, as a student and musician, my income would never afford me such an opportunity. Fortunately Helpmann recognised the potential benefit this could have for my development as an artist, and helped fund the project.
While in New York City, I had six lessons with Will Vinson as well as several one-off lessons with other established musicians in the jazz scene. These lessons provided new concepts for performance and practise that were entirely new to me. As an audience member frequenting many jazz performances in NYC, I was able to contextualise these concepts and approaches to the music in a focused environment.
I can say with confidence that this experience was the most important time in my development as a jazz musician so far.
In February 2017 I auditioned for the Masters of Music program at Manhattan School of Music in NYC. I was notified in late March that I was successful, with a generous scholarship offer. I will move there in August to commence studies.
With Helpmann’s assistance, I was able to understand that moving to NYC was an actual possibility. The personal study I undertook gave direction and knowledge that better prepared me for my audition for the Masters program.
Helpmann Academy assist artists like me, not just in funding but guidance as well. They understand the importance of creating these opportunities, to better the artists and the wider artistic community here in South Australia.
I encourage all to please donate to this great organisation.
Photo by Russell Millard
Nicholas received a Helpmann Regular Grant in 2016, was the recipient of Helpmann’s 2016 Expr3ss! Award for Best Overall Jazz Graduate and together with fellow jazz graduate Angus Mason, received a 2018 Helpmann Fellowship (supported by the James and Diana Ramsay Foundation).