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Loyalsock student is U.S. winner of music achievement award

PHOTO PROVIDED Bassist Gabriel Severn, a Loyalsock Township High School junior, was named the United States’ winner of the Joe Zawinul Foundation for Achievement’s “Z” Award.

Bassist Gabriel Severn, a junior at Loyalsock Township High School, is the U.S. winner of the Joe Zawinul Foundation for Achievement’s “Z” Award.

The “Z” Award is given annually to a music student from Austria and a music student in the United States for demonstrating exceptional musical talent and passion, according to a press release.

The two winners will participate in an all-expenses-paid cultural exchange program that encourages them to broaden their studies and acquire new skills through multi-cultural opportunities.

Severn will spend three weeks in June in Vienna, Austria, studying at the Joe Zawinul Musikschule and performing at Viennese events.

Joe Zawinul composed some of the best-known standards in jazz, including “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy” and “Birdland.” With Wayne Shorter, Zawinul founded and led Weather Report, arguably the most successful band of post-’60s jazz, according to the press release.

He founded the Zawinul Musikschule in 2003. Before his death in 2007, Zawinul had begun to fashion an exchange program between music students at his school and those in the United States, his adopted country.

Established in 2013 by Tony Zawinul, the Zawinul Foundation for Achievement continues to fulfill Joe Zawinul’s dream by creating programs, events and partnerships that reflect its commitment to music education as a life-transforming experience, according to the press release.

“Weather Report and Joe Zawinul have been huge influences on me for years, since I was toddler. My trio is even named after a Weather Report tune,” Severn said of his group, Teen Town. “Being able to have this experience which originated from Joe Zawinul’s idea, and in his home country, is pretty exciting.”

Severn began playing and performing on the electric bass at age 7, and has received multiple awards for performing, soloing and composition from DownBeat, the Jazz Education Network and the National YoungArts Foundation.

Severn’s jazz fusion trio, Teen Town, has also received a DownBeat award and the 2020 “Best Jazz Band” Award from the Central Pennsylvania Music Hall of Fame. Teen Town released its debut album, “A Month of Sundays,” in early May.

For more information, visit www.gabrielsevern.com

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