University of Toledo Alumna Wins 2018 ASCAP Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composer Award

Posted Mar 20th, 2018 by Angela Riddel  Category: Arts & Entertainment


Estar Cohen, of the Estar Cohen Project and a 2015 alumna of the University of Toledo Music Department, is one of 15 recipients of The ASCAP Foundation’s 2018 Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composer Awards. The program, which was established in 2002 to encourage young gifted jazz composers up to the age of 30, is named in honor of trumpeter/composer/bandleader Herb Alpert in recognition of The Herb Alpert Foundation’s multi-year financial commitment to support this program. Additional funding for this program is provided by The ASCAP Foundation Bart Howard Fund. The recipients, who receive cash awards, range in age from 14 to 29, and are selected through a juried national competition. The ASCAP composer/judges for the 2018 competition were: Sylvie Courvoisier, Wycliffe Gordon, and Sachal Vasandani. In addition, one of the recipients of the Herb Alpert Awards will be featured during the 2018 Newport Jazz Festival in August.

Estar Cohen is a vocalist, lyricist, composer, and educator based out of Ypsilanti, MI. She has performed alongside renowned musicians including Jon Hendricks, Peter Eldridge, Tad Weed, Pete Siers, David Bixler, Vinny Golia, and Ken Filiano, among others. Estar graduated with a Bachelor of Music in Jazz Performance from the University of Toledo in 2015 where she studied voice, improvisation, and composition with pianist Tad Weed, guitarist Jay Weik, and “father of vocalese” Jon Hendricks who has called her lyrics “beautiful.” Some highlights over the course of those four years include recording her first album “Waiting For Dawn,” lyricizing the instrumental pieces of late jazz pianist, Herbie Nichols, for Tad Weed’s Freedom Ensemble, putting on clinics and concerts with her jazz quintet Talking Ear at numerous Southern Michigan Universities, and exploring the art of free improvisation and improvised poetry with Jay Weik. In 2015, she was chosen as a finalist in the Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composer Awards and in 2014, was given the Craig’s Keyboard Student Composer Award for her original vocal ensemble composition, The Day the Government Shut Down.

Since her graduation, she has traveled as a performer and educator throughout the Midwest and in major cities including New York and Chicago. Notable performances have included New York City’s Rockwood Music Hall, Earthwork Harvest Gathering, the Toledo Museum of Art, Ann Arbor’s Edgefest at Kerrytown Concert House, and Michigan’s River Street Anthology Project.

Estar is an avid writer, penning lyrics for Midwest jazz artists including Tad Weed, Travis Aukerman, Dan Palmer, and Benjamin Maloney. Her poetry has been published in Ohio Anthology, Bards Again 2016, and in Khroma Magazine. As an educator, Estar has taught songwriting with Michigan label Earthwork Music in partnership with the non-profit SEEDS and is a private music instructor in the Ann Arbor area.

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