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Congrats To The Class Of 2024! 🎓

Congratulations, class of 2024! Your dedication, perseverance, and enthusiasm for music have been truly remarkable to observe and you have fully earned this moment of success! As you move forward, we hope you’ll carry the lessons and skills you've honed at YLJC into your future endeavors. Best wishes as you embark on new challenges and we look forward to seeing the amazing things you will achieve. We are incredibly proud of you!👏🎉


Giacomo Berti - Bass/Trumpet

I’m going to be heading to UCLA, majoring in biochemistry with intentions to become a pharmaceutical chemist in the future. Though I probably won’t be studying music, I’m still going to join as many jazz ensembles as possible and am going to try to play as many gigs as I can. 

Young lions has given me something that I haven’t been able to get anywhere else in my life: an outlet through which I can share my passion for jazz with others. I will always be grateful towards Mr. Thorsen, Mr. Key, Mr. Kruetel, Mr. Castellanos, and everyone else who has made my experience with young lions so positive!


Jake Bujewski - Drums

My name is Jake Bujewski and I am going to Cal Poly Pomona to study chemical engineering. I will continue to practice music as a hobby and strive to become a better musician. I have chosen to not pursue music as a career but music still holds a big place in my heart. 

Being a Young Lion gave me more experience in playing with different people and showed me the importance of being prepared for a performance. I think that in anything in life, what you put into it is what you get out. Doing what you love will always be enjoyable and even if things seem bad now you will remember it to be good times back then.


Ethan Fairclough - Bass

My name is Ethan Fairclough and I plan on pursuing music to the post secondary level. I plan on attending the Manhattan School of Music with a major in Jazz Bass.

Young Lions Jazz Conservatory has been a guiding light in discovering my passions and inspirations. This program has truly presented me with an art that I cannot see my future without. Thank you to Mr. White, Thorsen, Castellanos, Kruetel, and Murray for your kindness, support, education, and helping me discover the character I want to become.


Max Kreger-Boaz - Sax

I'm graduating from the San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts (SCPA) in June, and I will be attending San Diego State University (SDSU) and majoring in Jazz Studies. I picked up the alto saxophone in sixth grade at CPMA Middle School under the direction of Richard Chiavarelli (the Great Mr. C!) and I never looked back. I'm so lucky that I found music and Young Lions, and that San Diego schools are so supportive of music education. 

I am deeply grateful for the learning and performing opportunities that Young Lions has provided to me. I've been so fortunate to play with incredible musicians (students and professionals alike), and to learn from instructors like Charlie Arbalaez, Rob Thorsen, Bob Boss, Tyler Kreutel, Gilbert Castellanos, Christopher Hollyday and Chaz Cabrera. Through Young Lions, I've gotten to experience San Diego's incredible jazz scene and I look forward to being part of the San Diego music community for years to come.


Luke Little - Bass

In the Fall, I will attend San Diego State University for Jazz Studies. I eagerly await the rest of my life as a musician, and I think it is through Young Lions that helped me finalize this decision of music being my pursuit forever. YLJC is doing great things and I feel I will continue to blossom with them in the back of my mind for a long, long time.


Nicolas Mozafari - Drums

I am graduating from Canyon Crest Academy and will be attending San Diego State University, majoring in business/economics and minoring in music.

I have always been interested in music and have played various instruments from an early age. I play drums and percussion in various ensembles from jazz to symphony to rock bands.  I also play for a rock band called Five Wives and I love to create music. As a Young Lion, I worked to improve my technique, made strong connections to my band members, and enjoyed performing at the Panama 66 and other venues. I would like to thank Mr. Gilbert Castellanos for the creation of the wonderful community known as Young Lions Jazz Conservatory, and Mr. Thorsen for guiding and supporting me to become a better musician. I also want to express my deepest gratitude to all my piano and drum instructors throughout the years whose incredible dedication fostered a deep love and appreciation of music within me, contributing significantly to my personal growth. The encouragement and insistence on regular practice by my teachers have been instrumental in my development. I will always cherish the memories of my performances and I am grateful for all the opportunities provided by the inspiring instructors of the YLJC. Lastly, I highly recommend anyone interested in Jazz to get involved with the YLJC and specially attend all the Master Classes and clinics offered by the amazing instructors.


Noah Plank - Drums

My name is Noah Plank and I plan on going to SDSU in fall majoring in music performance. Although I am pursuing a concert percussion major and not a Jazz major, I will continue to study jazz drumming through college.

Being a student in the Young Lions has exposed me to different music, more in depth ensemble playing, and new friends. It was one of the most crucial parts of high school for me because of all I learned while playing with other people.


Nathan Pruetting - Guitar

I am committed to the University of Utah starting in the fall of 2024 and plan on pursuing an engineering major with a potential minor in music. I started playing guitar in 4th grade and jazz in middle school, and I want to continue my studies with the inspiration of those around me.

To me, being a young lion meant playing fun yet challenging music with a group of other skilled musicians and experienced directors who were there to help us students improve. This experience has inspired me to better myself on the guitar and taught me to take advantage of presented opportunities with confidence.


Dahlia Robinson - Bass/Voice

In the fall I will attend Point Loma Nazarene University with a double major in commercial music and graphic design. 

I was terrified when I showed up for my first Young Lions class in eighth grade. Little did I know that the Young Lions Jazz Conservatory would change my life forever. I am so grateful for the amazing faculty that poured their time and energy into my music education. Throughout my time there I have gained knowledge, confidence, and real friendships that will aid me as I enter a new stage of life. It has been an honor to be a part of this jazz community!


Andrew Roelen - Trumpet

I will be attending MiraCosta Community College for the 24'-25' school year. I plan to study nursing and play trumpet as my side passion and hobby. 

As a Young Lion it has been a formative experience in the development of my musicianship and perspective as a developing jazz musician. To consult professional jazz musicians as you hone your craft is an experience unmatched by any other musical education opportunity as a young musician which has enriched my musicianship and love for jazz as a whole.


Harrison Rueckert - Bass

I will be attending UCLA where I will continue my study of music in the global jazz studies major. 

To me being a Young Lions means collaborating with other like-minded people that share a love of jazz. Having the opportunity to play with and learn from such amazing mentor musicians had truly been a privilege. 


Daniel Sandoval - Trumpet

Greetings, My name is Daniel Sandoval, a trumpet player who has been playing since the 4th grade. As I graduate from the San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts and as well from the Young Lions Jazz Conservatory, I reflect on my journey thus far. After graduation my path leads to Grossmont Community College, where I aim to pursue a two-year program to earn my associate's degree in music. Following this, my aspirations extend to a four-year stint at San Diego State University, where I plan to delve deeper into the study of music.

Being in the YLJC has been both a privilege and a blessing, as it has granted me insight into the world of a musician, particularly a jazz musician. Throughout my time there, I've acquired a wealth of knowledge that I fully intend to apply in my future endeavors. Among the many skills I've acquired are soloing over various scales and chord changes, effectively communicating with the rhythm section during performances by signaling transitions and cues, sight-reading music,  transcribing solos, and adapting others' solos to create my own interpretations. Additionally, I've gained firsthand experience of gigging, participating in jam sessions where I've had to improvise on unfamiliar tunes, and navigating the nerves that come with soloing before finding my groove and captivating listeners with my playing. Witnessing an audience member tapping their foot and nodding along is immensely gratifying, as it signifies that I've successfully engaged them with my performance. I am deeply grateful to the instructors Rob Thorson and Carter Key for their guidance and for expanding my musical horizons. Special thanks to Gilbert Castellanos for the opportunity to be part of a big band, and to Craig Murray for his prompt and helpful responses to my inquiries. Lastly, I express my heartfelt appreciation to my parents for their unwavering support, from driving me and taking me to my classes and attending my performances.


Logan Shimabukuro - Violin

In the fall I plan to attend San Diego State as a Jazz studies major. I enjoy playing around the community and something I want to continue to do and pursue in college. 

I really enjoyed being in young lions the past 2 years and I have grown as a musician a lot thanks to the program. I’m grateful to have had Gilbert Castellanos as well as the opportunity to learn under the other many instructors in the program.


Franchezka Sobreo - Voice

I am planning to major in Jazz Vocals at California State University Long Beach! I’m very excited to continue pursuing my passion for music in college. 

I had only joined Young Lions during Fall 2023 and I wish I had joined much sooner. Being part of an actual jazz ensemble has educated me on a lot of things, whether it was music theory, improvisation, transcriptions, etc. YJLC has also been a big help towards my college pre screens and auditions, all thanks to my teacher Rob Thorsen. I am so lucky to have been a part of this welcoming and fun environment. Not only has young lions given me more confidence for jazz in college, but it helped me follow my passion and to have the ability to share it with others. Thank you for this amazing experience, I am forever grateful!


Trinity Walsh - Bass

I am planning on attending Grossmont college and eventually transferring to a CSU or UC, with a focus on English and Literature. I hope to become a writer or editor in the future, but I do hope to continue on in music in the future whether it be through jazz or my own songs. 

Young Lions has been a major aspect of my life for the past seven years, and has had a big impact on my ability to communicate, build, and grow friendships and connections with others. I joined in the 6th grade, and graduating after so long feels like an unbelievable journey since then. I am so thankful to my teachers and my band mates for helping push me to learn and become a better musician, as well as a stronger person with clearer ideas of who I wish to become. I will take these lessons and make something out of them that I am sure will help others as well, and continue to change for the better.


Enrique Wilcox - Vibraphone

I'm Enrique Wilcox, and I joined the young lions my Junior year of highschool. After being with the young lions for 3 semesters I've grown exponentially in not only my jazz journey, but my journey as a musician period. Young Lions has helped me understand how to communicate with a band and witness amazing musicianship.

After I graduate highschool I'm going to take classes at grossmont community college, studying jazz so that I can get my associates degree and then move onto other conservatories or colleges of the arts.

I'm forever grateful for the ability to have participated in such an amazing conservatory.


Bowen Williams - Trumpet

After graduation, I’m heading to Grossmont College to pursue creative writing. 

Being a young lion has helped keep music present in my busy schedule, so after a long and tiring week, I’ll at least get one day of playing enjoyable music with people I get along with.


Diana Woltman - Sax

I will be attending UC Berkeley, and will be majoring in Molecular Environmental Biology to pursue a career as a marine biologist. Although I am not planning on taking any music-related college courses, I will absolutely continue playing music while in college.

Being a Young Lion has been a tremendous opportunity for developing my skills, and encouraged me to push myself to play my best. I've also been introduced to many wonderful musicians during my time in the program, and learned so much from my experiences with everyone here. Being able to feel that connection with others in such a profound way has most definitely fueled my love for jazz, which I hope to share with others throughout my life. This was a wonderful chance to grow and truly embrace jazz into my life.


Steven Yin - Sax

Hi! My name is Steven Yin, I am from the Bishop’s School class of 2024, and I will be attending John’s Hopkins University starting next year with the intention of becoming a researcher in biology.  I am also considering a minor in jazz.

Although my time at Young Lions has been brief, the wonderful instructor and band mates that I have had the honor of meeting has made me wish that I could stay here forever. At Young Lions, I have been given the invaluable opportunity to work alongside some of the most amazing, talented, kind, and creative jazz musicians; a truly formative experience that I will hold close forever.  I am endlessly grateful for the new perspectives that I have gained during my time here, and I hope to continue to embody the spirit and lessons that I have learned at the Young Lions Jazz Conservatory!


Not Pictured:

Ciara Ascherfeld - Voice

Paden Flaster - Guitar

Joaquin Gutierrez-Coronado - Sax

Jaylen Pablos - Piano


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