Student Selected for All-National Honor Band

Zeno Chen ’22 was accepted in the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) All-National Honor Band for alto saxophone. He will be participating in a virtual festival in January. In order to achieve this level, students must have auditioned for and participated in their All-State Music Festival the previous year and then submit an audition tape to NAfME.

Chen began playing in the fourth grade, picking up the sax at a school assembly where the students tried out various instruments. He enjoyed the tone of the instrument and the experience so thoroughly that he began to take private lessons at the University of Hartford where he has continued his lessons for the past eight years. 

One of the compelling reasons Chen enjoys playing music is for relaxation. “It really calms me down, especially if I am stressed,” he said. “I take my sax and play music I like which relieves stress for me. Music just moves me. There are so many emotions that correlate with the music. It’s a way for me to say my emoticons without actually saying them. Playing the music I can convey my emotions through it.”

A dedicated musician, Chen practices for one to two hours every day. “It’s fun to play. I never dread it. The music is always so nice. I don’t feel the two hours at all. When other kids were playing video games when we were younger, I was playing the sax. It’s where my passion was,” he said.

In order to prepare for his audition, Chen listened to the great contemporary saxophonists such as Claude Delangle, Arno Bourncamp, and Don Sinta and wove some of their stylistic choices and phrasing into his own piece. The required audition piece was a classic etude, and he selected a supplemental early jazz piece from the 1930s entitled Hot Sonata.

In his KO career, Chen has played in the Connecticut Music Educators Association (CMEA) north regional music festival three years in a row, the CMEA All-State festival three years in a row, and the NAfME All-Eastern Music Festival which includes all the best All-State players from Maine to Maryland last year. He was first chair for All-Eastern. He has also been active in the Hartt School high school programs playing with the Greater Hartford Youth Wind Ensemble (GHYWE) for the past three years and is playing with them again this year. “He is a highly accomplished musician. KO is fortunate to have him here,” said Chair of the Music Department Todd Millen.

Chen plans on studying physics in college, but there will always be a place for music. He said he may minor in music as well as play in chamber music and the jazz band.
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Located in West Hartford, CT just steps from Blue Back Square, Kingswood Oxford is a private school inspiring co-ed day students in grades 6-12 with a college preparatory curriculum. Empowered students become clear confident communicators, resourceful problem-solvers, and ethical leaders. KO: where unlimited potential meets endless opportunities.
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