Jazz icon inspires young Vt. musicians - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Jazz icon inspires young Vt. musicians

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The jazz band at Kurn Hattin Homes in Westminster has got it going on.

"The music brings Kurn Hattin as a family and as a community together," said Bryce Eutler, an eighth-grader.

Music is mandatory here. Just the push that some young people need to reach their full potential.

"I've realized that this is my passion. I've wanted to live my dream and here I am living it," said Jenitza Fernandez, a trumpet player.

Tuesday, the kids had a special guest-- world-renowned trombone player Dick Nash, who got on the map in the music scene in LA. The International Trombone Award recipient is in town for the school's sixth annual Jazz Invitational.

"They made my career," Nash said. "Let's face it, without them getting me started on the trumpet at the age of 10, I don't know what I would be doing."

Nash graduated from Kurn Hattin in 1942. But the story behind why he came here is a tragic one. Nash lost both his parents at a very young age.

"The greeting here and the kids and the whole atmosphere, I lost any sadness that I had. It was a whole new life," he said.

The hilltop school, which sits on 200 acres with a full working farm, takes in students in need who, for whatever reason, do not have a family able to care for them. Kurn Hattin provides that.

"There is that core that a lot of our children might not have had in their younger years," said Connie Sanderson of Kurn Hattin. "And so they are secure. And when you are secure, you can thrive."

Students like Chystal Longe...

"When I first came here, I didn't really want to be here. But now that I have been here, it's changed me. And that first weekend (away) I just wanted to come back. I couldn't wait to come back and see all the people," she said.

...And former students like Nash.

"I found myself here," Nash said. "It was a new life for me."

And now he's giving something back to a school these kids call home.

"When he walked in, I just got the chills. I was like, 'Wow, this is amazing,'" said Thomas Taylor, an eighth-grader. "I want to be like him some day. I want to work my hardest and achieve my dreams."

Dreams of making music in a setting that gives them the opportunity to do so.

The jazz festival takes place Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Mayo Memorial Center on the Westminster campus. It is open to the public. A nonperishable food item or cash donation gets you through the door.

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