Thursday, May 13, 2010

Up-and-Comers Dept.: Deering High musician having a banner year

Published in the Portland Phoenix

You might have caught 18-year-old Dominic Sbrega on NPR’s From the Top last week, playing Mexican folk-dance music on his stand-up bass, accompanying three trumpeters (from the Washington DC area), two 17-year-old Maine percussionists, and show host Christopher O’Riley on piano.

If you’re a road-tripping music fan, you also might have caught Sbrega in California, performing in the Grammy Jazz Ensembles back in January as part of the week leading up to the Grammy Awards ceremony. But if you’re a jazz fan, it’s pretty much a sure thing that you’ll see him performing on even larger stages at some point not too long from now.

Sbrega plays the upright bass in classical, jazz, and (apparently) Mexican folk pieces, and is also one of seven high-school students recognized this year by DownBeat magazine for outstanding performance. In the fall, he’ll head to Rochester, New York, to attend the Eastman School of Music to study jazz performance on the bass.

A Deering High School senior at the moment, Sbrega is unimpressed with the Rams’ music program, saying the facilities are fine but the people could be more dedicated. Of course, he sets a high bar: In addition to performing with the Portland Youth Symphony Orchestra and various all-state music ensembles, he spent two weeks last summer taking master classes at Eastman. Keep your eyes — and ears — out for his return to town, but after a very busy winter and spring, he says, “I think I might take a little bit of a break” over the summer.