Sax Performance Major Takes First in State Competition

Jaxon Dewald ’24 and Ellie Chang ’25

Jaxon Dewald ’24, a sax performance major from Moorhead, won the Music Teacher National Association (MTNA) state competition in Plymouth, Minn. The MTNA competition is three rounds: state, regional, and national. He’ll now proceed to the regional competition, which is a video round.

For the video round, with the help of local pianist Sue Nagel, Dewald will be performing the same music he performed live in Plymouth:

·      “Concerto in Eb Major” by Alexandre Glazunov

·      “Lamento et Rondo” by Pierre Sancan

·      “Fantasia” by Denis Bedard

“This is a very challenging program, and Jaxon has really risen to the occasion!” said Russell Peterson, associate professor of music. “He is a very dedicated worker and puts in many hours of practice. The Concordia faculty and entire music department are proud of Jaxon and rooting for his success! But, as I tell him every day, even if he doesn’t move on to the final round, the work and the progress made to this point is worth it.”

Dewald competed in the Young Artist Woodwinds category. 

“This experience was new to me; this is my first time at a competition in college,” Dewald said. “The MTNA competition was recommended to me by Russ in the summer before this semester, and I decided to take the challenge because I was working hard and had no other opportunities to showcase it in the past. I was nervous about performing and being critiqued but overcame that because this was the moment I had been waiting so long for.”

Ellie Chang ’25 also competed in the same category and was named an alternate to represent Concordia if Dewald cannot.

Dewald and Chang performed at Fourth Baptist Church, which Dewald said was unfortunately in a dry, stuffy room that was challenging for a woodwind player to perform in, but the judge recognized the issue and praised him for overcoming the circumstances.

Dewald said he was surprised by his win but, since he’s performing the same music for the video round, he’s feeling confident he can do even better than the last round because he has a list of critiques the judge gave him for his performance. “I’m not expecting to win, but the experience of doing all of this in the first place is amazing in itself,” he said.

Dewald said he was inspired by the music of Leo P and his band Too Many Zooz, known for what’s called “brasshouse” music. The group went viral when someone recorded them playing in the subways of New York City. He went to the Twin Cities early to take in their concert at Fine Line in Minneapolis and was excited to take part in a meet and greet after the show.

“I shared with them my gratitude for their music and told them they were a big inspiration for my career in music performance,” he said. “I wouldn’t be in the same place had I not known their work. I don’t know if that concert contributed to my success on Saturday, but it did make me motivated to do my best in the competition.”