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Jackson A. Waters

Jackson A. Waters is an award-winning concert and multimedia composer acclaimed as the next “Rising Star” by VoyageLA Magazine. At the age of 16, he became the youngest composer-in-residence at the 2018 Oregon Bach Festival. Shortly after, the Areté Vocal Ensemble commissioned Jackson to compose a choral work in memory of the lives affected and lost during the 2018 Woolsey Fire in Southern California. In 2019, while serving as the principal trumpet at The Colburn School, the Colburn Youth Orchestra recorded his inaugural orchestral piece—a rhapsody about the Tulsa Race Massacre—conducted by Jackson himself. By the time he enrolled at New York University, Jackson had garnered commissions and performance opportunities from conservatories, professional ensembles, and dance companies.

Jackson’s musical works focus on revitalizing Black American history and culture, aiming to bring to light untold stories and address racial injustices. He expanded his 2019 rhapsody into a six-movement programmatic symphony titled ‘Defending Greenwood,’ based on the Tulsa Race Massacre. Described as a work of "expert orchestration" and a "tour de force" by composer Daniel Ott, segments of his symphony have been performed by The Colburn School, won first place in the Metropolitan Youth Orchestra’s Emerging Composers Competition, secured a finalist position in the American Composer’s Orchestra Earshot Competition at the age of 21, and earned him a composer residency with the NYU Orchestra for the symphony's premiere in concert. For his other recent works, Waters has collaborated with professional musicians such as cellist Jacques Wood and ensembles like the Rhythm Method.

Beyond the realm of concert music, Jackson has scored music for numerous short and feature-length films, spanning genres from high-energy action films to intimate dramas. He is a contracted composer for Yessian Music, writing commercial music for companies including State Farm and Coca-Cola. He has also ventured into social media, collaborating with TikTok star and poet Christi Steyn, scoring short videos featuring spoken word poetry. Waters has collaborated with songwriters, arranging string music for their songs.

During his residency in Prague, Jackson was mentored by composer Beata Hlavenkova and had the opportunity to record in beautiful venues like the 13th-century St. Nicholas Church. As a dedicated listener of jazz and hip-hop, Waters explores pushing the boundaries of concert music by incorporating sampling into the genre. Using an African folk recording featuring two Chewa women singing a marriage song titled ‘Mangondo Azipita,’ Jackson composed ‘Mangondo Postlude,’ a string trio and piano piece blending the field recording with his composition, performed and recorded by the Czech string group, S.V.A Trio.

Jackson has earned positions as one of the trumpet players in the Brooklyn Symphony Orchestra and as the assistant conductor of the NYU Broadway Orchestra under the direction of Theodore Sperling, conducting works from Street Scene, Sweeney Todd, and Jesus Christ SuperStar.

Currently, Jackson A. Waters is studying music theory and composition at New York University, where he is a recipient of the Steinhardt Scholarship. He is studying under the guidance of Shelley Washington and Julia Wolfe.

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