Willauer jazzes up local music scene; pursues early career
By Ashley Weston
On a Friday night, Max Willauer can be found getting ready to take the stage at a local club.
Willauer, a junior at Conestoga, has begun pursuing his love of jazz music, playing weekend shows in local music clubs.
“[He] works hard to excel in that area [music]. He’s a talented musician, so when I play with him I get better. He is friendly and inviting to peers,” says junior saxophonist Stephen Ruzzini.
Many students took note of Willauer’s talent earlier this year, during his performance at Jamnesty, the Human Rights Club’s annual fundraiser.
Willauer has played to crowds as large as 2,000 people as well as more intimate gatherings with acclaimed jazz musician Nick Colionne. Willauer has played shows in the city, including at Philadelphia club Warmdaddy’s.
In his shows, Willauer plays with a variety of different groups, including jazz quartets and student-led bands.
Willauer also writes his own songs, which he first tries out on piano, and later transfers to other instruments.
“I’ll just start playing what I hear in my head, and then if I hear something I like, I’ll just try to develop it. A lot of the stuff I write is more jazz-oriented,” Willauer said.
Apart from composing, Willauer plays in a variety of shows, including clubs, jazz festivals and private engagements.
Here at Conestoga, he participates in band, orchestra and choir. He will graduate at the end of his junior year in order to pursue his sudy of music.
“I have tried to rework my schedule this year so that I can allow myself to spend more time on music,” said Willauer.
Over the years, Willauer has played the clarinet, the flute and the saxophone, his favorite being the saxophone.
“His first love of music is jazz. Students respect the fact that he has a lot of confidence in what he does,” music teacher Anthony DiLella said.
When he is not playing, he enjoys listening to jazz; he said his favorite artist is Kenny Garrett.
What he enjoys most about playing instruments is performing in front of many people and being able to see their reactions to his music.
“I’ve learned what it’s like to try to have a career as a performing musician,” said Willauer.
Willauer views the next year as an opportunity to further develop his skills as a jazz musician and pursue his love for music. He will replace his senior year with his budding music career.
Ashley Weston can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Printed originally on p.17 of the Feb. 13, 2009 issue of The Spoke.