September 10, 2019
Elan: Energy, Style, Enthusiasm
The dictionary defines elan as energy and enthusiasm and that is a perfect assessment of our Joseph Spinella Scholarship recipient Elan Stadelmann ’20. As an active member in the school’s musical productions (Amos in last year’s Chicago) and jazzapella concerts, Stadelmann embraces every opportunity to showcase his musical prowess. When Creative Arts Chair Todd Millen announced the winner of the music scholarship at an assembly last spring, Stadelmann was visibly moved to tears. “I worked my tail off for the chance. I never expected it, but I did it! I got it! I revised my application three times. Without the scholarship money, I wouldn’t have been able to attend the Litchfield Jazz Camp at The Gunnery. The experience was a great indicator that this is the path for me,” he said.
Stadelmann began playing the alto sax ten years ago, and then he moved on to play the tenor sax. Only last year did he pick up the baritone sax. Bari is one of the biggest and the least common instruments, which Stadelmann considers the most fun to play due to its deep, rich tone.
For two weeks at the camp, Stadelmann practiced in a combo for three hours a day, learned theory, took tests, and honed his craft in masterclasses with professional musicians. Every evening the faculty would perform a dynamic showcase.
“Everyone pushed you, and everyone wanted you to be the best you could be,” Stadelmann said. For instance, the program director knew that an upper-level combo needed a baritone sax, and recommended Stadelmann for the slot. “Why would I do a crazy thing like that? It felt good to be in a room with people who are much better than you. It was all thrown at me. I struggled a lot. It wasn’t all fun, but it was an awakening. I can’t see myself not doing it.” In his spare time at the camp, Stadelmann practiced and then practiced more to improve his tone, sound, and speed.
To chill out, Stadelmann listens to trumpeter Maynard Ferguson, baritone saxophonists Leo P (Pellegrino), Leo Parker, Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers and the giants like Dextor Gordon and Charlie Parker. But don’t think Stadelmann will ease up on his craft. He’s preparing to audition to study music education in college. “This is consuming me. You have to be determined. You have to do it every day. I’m trying to immerse myself in this because I love it and need it.”