Fifteen-year-old Rockaway Township trumpet player Michael Minenna, who is a member of the Morris Knolls High School (MKHS) ninth-grade Concert Band and the MKHS Jazz Band, has won the prestigious 2020 junior scholarship presented by the Hanover Wind Symphony (HWS).


Michael, a ninth-grader who hopes to become a professional musician, will use his scholarship this summer to attend the Eastman Trumpet Online Workshop, offered by the Eastman School of Music in Rochester.


Gail Lalk of Morristown, chair of the HWS Scholarship Committee, says of the honoree, “We were very impressed with Michael’s musical capability. His trumpet playing was impressive and it’s clear that he has the right combination of raw talent and willingness to work hard to hone his playing technique. Michael clearly gets joy from his music and he finds ways to share that with others through school, community, scouting and his church. He is a great representation of the HWS motto, ‘bringing music to people and people to music.’ “


Scholarship Committee member Kurt Zimmermann of Rockaway adds, “Michael has a sense of musical maturity that’s beyond his years. It’s reassuring to me that the quality of musical education in this state is so high.”


Among the honor ensembles that Michael has performed with are the 2020 North Jersey Region Symphonic Winds, the North Jersey Junior High Area Band in 2019, the All–North Jersey Junior Region Symphonic Winds in 2019, and the All–North Jersey Junior High School Symphonic Orchestra, also in 2019.


Active in Boy Scouts, Michael has played with the Boy Scout Holiday Jazz Band, performing in nursing homes and other venues throughout the community. In addition, he was a bugler for the Rockaway Township 150th Anniversary Memorial Day Parade and Commemoration Services in May 2019; he served as the bugler for the Annual Patriots Path Council Eagle Scout Recognition Dinner in January 2020; and he has earned Boy Scout music and bugling merit badges.


Speaking about his love for music, Michael says, “Ever since I played my first note in fourth grade, I knew that is what I wanted to do when I grew up. I practice every day and any time I can. Music gives me a special feeling. It always makes the darkest days bright and the coldest feel warm.”


The Hanover Wind Symphony is a unique extension of the great American tradition of adult music performance. The large orchestra, made up exclusively of woodwind, brass and percussion instruments, is committed to mentoring the next generation of wind musicians.


Hanover Wind Symphony Scholarship Committee members include Gail Lalk, committee chair, plus HWS president Dr. William Trusheim of West Milford, HWS treasurer Len Stern of Kinnelon, HWS music director Matthew Paterno of Parsippany, HWS associate music director Kurt Zimmermann, and HWS flutist Drusilla Gaffney of Succasunna.


HWS is working to make this scholarship program self-sustaining through donations. Donations to the Hanover Wind Symphony Summer Music Scholarship Program may be mailed to Hanover Wind Symphony, P.O. Box 100, Whippany, NJ 07981. Checks should be made payable to the Hanover Wind Symphony with “Scholarship Fund” in the memo line. Inquiries about the scholarship program may be emailed to info@hanoverwinds.org.


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