bridge arts & education

Our Story

Dan Shaut’s entire life has been influenced by music education. As the son of a music educator, Dan grew up surrounded not only by the performance of music, but by the process of making it. Jazz spoke to Dan and influenced him greatly. The combination of virtuostic musicianship and strong collaboration found in jazz became a guide for his own goals in music. In 2003, Dan began a career in music education while maintaining a presence as a performing musician. A few years into his career, he felt a disconnect between the two. The collaboration and community of music that he grew up watching## seemed like a world separate from education. The questions arose; How can student musicians and professional musicians benefit from one another? How can we expand the community?

In addition to working as a public-school band director, Dan established a jazz education program, hvJAZZ, where students worked and performed with professional jazz musicians. The program grew through the years and allowed for several opportunities to bring in world-class musicians as guest artists. As well as the program did, Dan knew that this was just one step toward his goal.

In 2018 Dan established Bridge Arts and Education, a non-profit dedicated to promoting education and collaboration as a means to grow a more diverse and innovative music community. In the 2018-2019 school year, Bridge Arts hosted three ensembles: the Hudson Valley Youth Jazz Ensemble, hvJAZZ lab, and hvJAZZ/SUNY Ulster Jazz Ensemble (a collaborative ensemble comprised of high school students, college students and adult community members). Special guests included drummer Roland Vazquez and pianist Steven Feifke, HVYJO attended the Essentially Ellington Regional Festival, and summer program students worked with trombonist Conrad Herwig and vocalist Laurel Masse. In the 2019-2020 year special guest Dennis Mackrel worked with students, groups performed at The Falcon (a jazz club in Marlboro), and a professional recording was made in preparation for the Essentially Ellington competition, an event hosted by Jazz at Lincoln Center headed by Wynton Marsalis. Other past guest clinicians and performers include trumpeters Michael Philip Mossman and Terrell Stafford, trombonist Melissa Gardner, and saxophonists Chris Vadala, Gary Smulyan, and Jim Snidero.

Bridge Arts has happily collaborated with Catskill Jazz Factory in placing artists from around the world as clinicians and guests of student ensembles. As part of this pairing, Bridge Arts students have worked with Aaron Diehl, Wycliffe Gordon, Alvin Atkinson, Jr., Yasushi Nakamura, Etienne Charles, Brandon Lee, Sarah Elizabeth Charles, Alphonso Horne, Chris Washburne, South African All Star Jazz Ensemble “Uhadi”, Candice Hoyes, and Gabe Schnider.

With the COVID-19 pandemic shutting down most performance and rehearsal opportunities, Dan used Bridge Arts as a virtual hub for learning and performing. The first online solo festival was held in the spring of 2020 to stand in for the canceled NYSSMA solo festivals. The benefit to bringing this event to the virtual world was that it allowed students from any area to join.  Participation was excellent and Bridge Arts was able to give scholarships to deserving performers. The summer of 2020 saw more cancelled events so, again, Dan used Bridge Arts to fill the gap. Courses in music theory, songwriting, and improvisation were offered.

Bridge Arts and Education is ever evolving to meet the needs of and fill the gaps in connections among musicians, student and professional, in the Hudson Valley and beyond.

Our Artistic Director

Saxophonist Dan Shaut is a Kingston, N.Y. native with 17 years of professional experience. He received his master’s degree in saxophone performance at the University of Maryland in 2003 and his bachelor’s degree in music education at Ithaca College in 2001. He has studied with Steve Mauk, Steve Brown, Chris Vadala and Dale Underwood.

In the fall of 2017 Shaut accepted the role of Director of Bands at Highland High School where he directs the high school concert band and jazz ensembles. In addition, Shaut was named (co)director of the SUNY Ulster Jazz Ensemble which has partnered with Shaut’s hvJAZZ youth ensembles. As artistic and managing director of hvJAZZ, Shaut has founded an annual summer jazz program and the yearlong Hudson Valley Youth Jazz Orchestra. Participating students in the hvJAZZ program have studied and performed with GRAMMY award winning jazz musicians including; Terrell Stafford, Chris Vadala, Gary Smulyan, John Mosca, and Dennis Mackrel.