Nick Hetko Wins Second Place in the Jacksonville Jazz Festival Piano Competition

May 31, 2013 — Coral Gables — Frost School of Music student and Stamps Distinguished Ensemble Scholar Nick Hetko, won second place in the Jacksonville Jazz Festival Piano Competition in Jacksonville, Florida on May 24th 2013.

The prestigious competition kicks-off the annual Jacksonville Jazz Festival. The competition awards the winner a cash prize and the opportunity to perform later in the festival on the main stage.

Hetko and the other four finalists were chosen by a selection committee through “blind” judging. Each competitor played for about 20 minutes. Pianist David Meder won first place. The other finalists included, Jarrett R. Cherner, Richard Sears and Emmett Cohen, B.M. ’12.

The competition dates back to 1983, when it was called the Great American Jazz Piano Competition. It has been held in the Florida Theatre since 1984, except for a few years in the past decade.

About Nick Hetko

Nick Hetko, piano, is majoring in Music Engineering Technology at the Frost School of Music where he is a Stamps Distinguished Ensemble Scholar and a member of the Stamps Jazz Quintet, Class of 2013, coached by faculty mentor Charles Bergeron. He studies privately with Shelly Berg, Martin Bejerano and Daniel Strange. Hetko also performs in a variety of jazz ensembles at Frost including the New Music Ensemble, Monk/Mingus Ensemble, the DownBeat collegiate award winning Funk/Fusion Ensemble, and others. Originally from Cambridge, New York, Nick Hetcko has performed with James Moody, Matt Wilson, Chris Potter, Buddy Guy, and Kenny Burrell. He won second place in the prestigious Jacksonville Jazz Festival Piano Competition in May 2013 and was part of the final four in the Nottingham Jazz Piano Competition in 2012, where he received a special commendation for improvisation. Hetko was the pianist for the Gibson/Baldwin 2010 Grammy Jazz Ensemble and received a DownBeat student award as outstanding soloist.

He also received a Young Jazz Composer award for his composition Snowflakes from the American Society of Composers and Publishers (ASCAP) and was selected into the Brubeck Jazz Colony. Hetco took up the piano at the age of nine and first studied classical music with Richard Cherry. During high school he attended the New York State Summer School of the Arts and School of Jazz Studies at Skidmore College, where he studied with Bill Cunliffe, Todd Coolman, Curtis Fuller, Clayton Cameron, and Bobby Shew. The last year he attended, he received the Dean L. Harrington Memorial Scholarship – one of only two given out in the entire program.

Nick Hetko was a pianist for the New York State Band Directors Association Honors Jazz Ensemble under Jim Snidero and was later recognized with Certificates of Merit for Outstanding Musical Achievement from the New York State Assembly and the New York State Senate.

Along with other members of the Stamps Jazz Quintet, he has received coaching from jazz greats Benny Golson, Dave Holland, Carl Allen, Brian Lynch, Terence Blanchard and Dave Douglas. The stellar group also performed in 2011 with blues guitarist Buddy Guy.

As a music engineering technology major, Hetko is involved with research and development of new music technologies, the development of mobile phone apps, and is active in audio engineering projects in the Weeks Music Studio and other recording facilities of the Frost School of Music.


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Frost School of Music student and Stamps Distinguished Ensemble Scholar, Nick Hetko.