Student Pianist Jiwon Kwon Wins DownBeat Award for Composition

Kimberly Ashton
May 15, 2018
Jazz composition and piano performance major Jiwon Kwon wins a DownBeat Student Music Award.
Image courtesy of Jiwon Kwon

Jiwon Kwon, an eighth-semester jazz composition and piano performance major, was one of four Berklee students who recently won a DownBeat Student Music Award, given to student musicians the magazine has deemed the best, as well as to their instructors.

Kwon, from Suwon, South Korea, won in the category Original Composition for Small Ensemble for her song “The First Step,” which she so titled because it symbolized her first major stride as musician. Even so, Kwon didn’t think it could win an award. But her Jazz Composition professor, Scott Free, thought otherwise and urged her to submit it for consideration.

“I wasn't sure if my piece good enough...but Scott always encourages me and supports in every possible way,” she said.

The other students who won awards are Eric Nakanishi for Alto Saxophone (instructor: Ralph Peterson); Kei Matsumaru Trio for Small Jazz Combo (instructor: Tiger Okoshi), Undergraduate; and Kaiji Wang for Jazz Arrangement (instructor: Matthew Nicholl).

Free, who nominated and sponsored Kwon, says her piece is “dynamic in the way melodic ideas flow and are harmonized.” Let’s take a listen. Here’s Jiwon Kwon with “The First Step.”

Produced by Kimberly Ashton
Engineered by Tony Brown