Bienen School of Music jazz students Albert Kuo and Darsan Swaroop Bellie are among the winners of DownBeat magazine’s 44th Annual Student Music Awards. Both students were recognized for outstanding original compositions in the undergraduate college division.

Albert Kuo

Albert Kuo, a jazz saxophone student of Victor Goines, was recognized in the small ensemble category for his composition Boom and Bam. According to the composer, the piece is “intended to convey the everlasting spirit and fight we all have within ourselves. Through demonstrative crashes during the main melody in addition to a 12-bar blues solo section, my original composition highlights the ups and downs that occur in everyday life,” Kuo writes. A recording of Boom and Bam, available on SoundCloud, features Kuo on alto saxophone, along with Austin Klewan (tenor saxophone), Peter Hoerenz (piano), Jesse Lear (bass), and Tyler Santee (drums).

Kuo is a jazz saxophonist, composer, and arranger from Millburn, New Jersey. His awards include: 2020 Detroit Jazz Festival Collegiate Combo Competition Winner, 2020 Unsigned Only Music Competition Semi-Finalist, 2018 National YoungArts Foundation Merit Winner in Jazz Saxophone, 2018 GRAMMY Camp Jazz Session Finalist, 2016-19 Charles Mingus High School Competition and Festival Outstanding Band and Saxophone Section, and 2016-17 New Jersey All State Jazz Ensemble. He has performed at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola at Jazz at Lincoln Center (New York, NY), the Blue Note Jazz Club (New York, NY), Capitol Theatre (Port Chester, NY), Andy’s Jazz Club (Chicago, IL), Evanston SPACE (Evanston, IL), Caffe Lena (Saratoga Springs, NY), Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts (Katonah, NY), New Jersey Performing Arts Center (Newark, NJ), and the Montclair Summer Jazz Festival (Montclair, NJ), among many other venues.

Darsan Swaroop Bellie

Darsan Swaroop Bellie, a jazz percussion student of Willie Jones III and dual-degree Weinberg student majoring in physics, was named a winner in the large ensemble category for his composition Winds of Calamity Movement II: Protest. The work aims to illustrate various themes in the context of ongoing social dynamics, especially since the beginning of the pandemic. “Drawing from the works of Charles Mingus, I came up with the second movement of the suite, entitled Protest. This piece is an interpretation of the arc of a protest, which has been highly relevant this year both at the community level and national level," Swaroop Bellie says. The piece was recorded by the Northwestern Jazz Orchestra and featured in a November 17 virtual concert. 

Swaroop Bellie is a drummer, composer, and arranger from Lexington, Massachusetts. At Northwestern, he has been a member of various jazz small ensembles directed by Joseph Clark and the Northwestern University Jazz Orchestra directed by Victor Goines and Darius Hampton. Darsan has also been actively involved in the student music scene on campus, performing with groups such as Meeow, Tonik Tap, and Morning Dew. When he is not working on music or problem sets, Darsan conducts research in Gravitational Wave Astrophysics through Dr. Vicky Kalogera’s research group. Darsan has performed at venues such as Jazz at Lincoln Center (New York, NY), Regattabar (Cambridge, MA), and Wally’s Cafe (Boston, MA), and has played with musicians such as Jason Palmer, Luis Bonilla, and Allison Miller.

  • jazz
  • Victor Goines
  • Willie Jones III
  • Darius Hampton
  • Joe Clark