UNT jazz student wins two international saxophone competitions

Jazz Saxophone Students with Brad Leali

DENTON (UNT), Texas - University of North Texas College of Music senior, Howard Dietz, won the Buffet Crampon and Julius Keilwerth Saxophone Idol competition and Yamaha Young Performing Artists Program award for saxophone.

Saxophone Idol is an international jazz competition in which selected finalists from around the world are invited to perform live in front of a panel of judges and a sold-out house. The Yamaha Young Performing Artists Program award “recognizes outstanding young musicians from around the world of classical, jazz and contemporary music.”

Dietz has always loved music and began playing saxophone at age 12 at the encouragement of his father.

After seeing a video of the One O’Clock Lab Band in high school, Dietz decided he wanted to study jazz. He chose UNT because of the College of Music’s prestigious jazz studies program. At UNT, Dietz studies saxophone with associate professor Brad Leali, whom he says is “an honest musician and person.”

“When I first started taking lessons with him, he exposed my weaknesses,” Dietz said. “That was the most helpful thing for me.”

To make it to the final rounds of the Saxophone Idol competition, Dietz sent an initial audition video which secured him a spot as a semifinalist. After another round of judging, three finalists were chosen to perform live at Andy’s Jazz Club in Chicago for a panel of five judges, including Keilwerth Saxophone Artists Brad Leali, Mike Smith, and Don Zentz, along with Buffet Crampon USA President and CEO François Kloc and “Downbeat Magazine” Contributing Editor Ed Enright.

Dietz said he was excited when he found out he won the competition and was amazed at the talent and abilities of his competitors.

“It felt really euphoric when I actually won,” he said. “Even though this was a competition, there was a friendly environment. It’s all about the music and the people I competed against had the same sentiment.”

As winner of the 2016 Saxophone Idol contest, Dietz was presented with a Julius Keilwerth MKX Saxophone. Additional prizes included a year supply of D'Addario Reeds and a two-year subscription to “Downbeat magazine,” courtesy of contributing sponsors D'Addario, a manufacturer of musical instruments, and “Downbeat.”

Dietz first heard about the Yamaha Young Performing Artists competition when he was in high school and has entered on and off since then. For winning this year, he will perform at Yamaha’s Music for All Summer Symposium in June and participate in workshops and networking sessions designed to help launch his career.

“If you’re a saxophonist or musician looking to enter these competitions, I’d say go for it,” Dietz said. 


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