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2021 Richard Cowie Scholarship Award Recipient

Meet guitarist Daniel Sanguinetti, winner of the 2021 Richard Cowie Memorial Scholarship Award. Born in Venezuela, Sanguinetti spent time in both Vancouver and Houston as a young child before arriving in Calgary at age six. His earliest memory of music was taking piano lessons with his brother in Houston and when the family arrived in Calgary his parents enrolled them both in music lessons again. This time, they both chose the guitar. Sanguinetti remembers having a great guitar teacher but not being too interested in music at the time, more the feeling that he was obliging his parents by attending the lessons. However, when the boys were forced to stop taking lessons due to financial constraints he realized he did miss the music.

After telling his father that he wanted to keep playing guitar they discovered the Jam Club at Studio Bell, a free music program run by volunteers and open to students of all levels of experience. Explaining the significance of Jam Club in his musical journey Sanguinetti says: “I considered that my true starting point. I started listening more to artists and finding what kind of sounds I had. I actually listened to music, I knew what I liked, I knew what I wanted to play. The more I got into it, the more I realised I wanted to keep learning.”

In grade 10 at St Mary’s High School, Sanguinetti discovered his school had a Jazz band but to join it he also had to join the concert band and to join the concert band he had to choose an instrument other than guitar. He chose the upright bass which he found physically demanding at first but the biggest challenge he describes was the transition from the informal albeit inspirational nature of Jam Club, to the formal environment of the school’s bands program: because I had to learn how to read music, learn the structure, learn how to follow the director. I had some experience reading music from the guitar lessons I took in grade four but because I got back into music through Jam club where no one really read music, I had to re-learn and re-teach myself.”

It was through band mates in the high school Jazz band that Sanguinetti found out about the JazzYYC Youth Lab Band which he joined in 2020 and whose repertoire continues to provide a new challenge and learning experience to him. His last performance before COVID hit was a showcase with the Youth Lab Band at The Ironwood Stage and Grill in March 2020. Since then his only performance opportunities have been recorded ones but Sanguinetti is eager to perform as much as possible as soon as COVID regulations allow for it. He’s interested in exploring the art of street performance as a way of developing his own performance skills and is eager to explore the different music communities around the city from classical to jazz to open mic nights and jam sessions. When asked who would be his dream jazz musician to perform with Daniel’s reply is humbling and down to earth stating categorically that although there are of course greats that he admires and aspires to – among them American Jazz Guitarists Joe Pass and Wes Montgomery  – he doesn’t think anything can beat the feeling of playing alongside people who you know really well and connect with.

After a year of studying in the Academy Program at the Mount Royal Conservatory, alongside chemistry at The University of Calgary, Sanguinetti will begin full time studies this September as a Classical Guitar Performance Major at The University of Calgary. You can catch Daniel Sanguinetti on stage at the TD JazzYYC Summer Festival which runs this year from August 19th – 22nd in some surprise new outdoor locations in Inglewood as well as your favourite venues on the Music Mile.

The Richard Cowie Scholarship is administered by the Calgary Musicians Association Local 547 and JazzYYC and is awarded annually to an individual who is a professional performing jazz musician.

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