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Damascus saxophonist wins scholarship

by: PHOTO COURTESY: OMHOF - Aaron Reihs, a senior at Sam Barlow High School, is pleased to have his musical skills recognized.Damascus resident Aaron Reihs, an award-winning saxophonist and senior at Barlow High School in Gresham, was among four recipients of the annual Oregon Music Hall of Fame college scholarships announced recently.

Reihs took first place in the Oregon Music Education Association State Solo & Ensemble Contest as a sophomore and received an outstanding-soloist award at the Essentially Ellington Festival in New York in 2011. Last year, his original composition won in the high school division of Downbeat magazine’s 35th Annual Student Music Awards.

“I am honored to have received the OMHOF scholarship, as it represents my dedication and enthusiasm to being a student of this music,” Reihs says.

He hopes to attend one of the East Coast music schools he has applied to as a jazz-studies major this fall. The scholarship will help him pay tuition. After liking some CDs he had checked out from the library, including recordings by Dexter Gordon, Illinois Jacquet and John Coltrane, he was drawn to playing the saxophone in fifth-grade band class.

“I became dedicated to studying jazz at the end of ninth grade when I began working with great Portland teachers such as Thara Memory, Alan Jones and Scott Hall, as well as playing in multiple local ensembles with which I received the opportunity to play in festivals in New York City, Monterey and Atlanta,” he says.

Reihs was the only scholarship recipient this year from the Portland metro area. Evan Carlson, Miya Saito-Beckman and Tatiana Hargreaves are the other recipients of $4,000 in scholarships to be formally presented after the students’ free performances at Jimmy Mak’s, 221 N.W. 10th Ave., Portland, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 14. Following the free student presentation, the Mel Brown Septet performs as part of Jimmy Mak’s “Partners in Jazz” series at 8 p.m. The cover charge is $5.

OMHOF’s scholarship program began in 2004 and more than $25,000 has been awarded to encourage students to continue their pursuit of a musical-education degree. OMHOF co-founders Janeen Rundle and Terry Currier noted that the scholarship committee got more than 100 “musically passionate and talented applicants” this year, and it was not an easy task to award four of them “for their focus and continuing success in life, college and music.”