Blue Knights Percussion Ensemble Announces 2018 Scholarship Recipients

DENVER, CO – Ascend Performing Arts is proud to announce the Blue Knights Percussion Ensemble Scholarship recipients for the 2017-2018 indoor percussion season.

Keith Nygaard Memorial Scholarship

The Keith Nygaard Memorial Scholarship was established in 2016, in honor of the late Blue Knights Percussion Ensemble guitarist Keith Nygaard. The 2018 recipients of the Keith Nygaard Scholarship are Hanalei Lintag and Jamal Blassingale.

Hanalei Lintag is part of the front ensemble for her first year as a Blue Knight and studies Chemical and Biological Engineering at the University of Colorado Boulder. Her interest in music began when she started piano lessons at the age of five and became a passion after her participation in her high school’s percussion ensemble.

“Being a Blue Knight is the constant desire for improvement and discovery of one’s abilities with others who hold the same ambition,” said Hanalei. “You get to become part of a family that works towards the same goal while building incredible friendships and memories in the process.”

Jamal Blassingale is currently a student at the University of Northern Colorado pursuing a business degree. Music has always been a part of his life but he didn’t start drumming until sophomore year of high school. Shortly after moving to the front range, he discovered the Blue Knights and immediately knew that this was the life for him.

“Becoming a Blue Knight was a dream come true, but now I get to represent something that is a part of someone else’s dream,” said Jamal. “I realized it can be difficult as a musician from the western slope to easily represent yourself in the independent community but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Everything about the Blue Knights has taught me how to prevail through adversity and become a better version of myself everyday.”

Del & Dinah Owens Memorial Scholarship

The Del & Dinah Owens Memorial Scholarship was recently established to honor the passing of long-time Blue Knights supporters Del & Dinah Owens. Del & Dinah had been a member of the Blue Knights family for over 20 years, and volunteered at a large number of Blue Knights events.

This year’s recipient of the Del & Dinah Owens Memorial Scholarship is Nikki Saiz. Nikki recently changed majors from classical percussion performance to jazz studies with an emphasis on drumset at the University of Denver. She is one of the first WGI and DCI female drumset players (BKPE and the Colts Drum & Bugle Corps). She has taught at Chatfield High School, Gateway High School, and Englewood High School as either a battery instructor or a front ensemble instructor. She has been playing the drums since age 10 and eventually played with a past RMPA concert world class high school-Bear Creek.

“Blue Knights has been a huge blessing in my life and has helped mold me into the performer, person, and educator I am today. The education within the Blue Knights is absolutely phenomenal; each weekend I walk away with brand new ideas and new ways of approaching any task. The Blue Knights family thrives on giving-the giving of time, effort, knowledge and passion. I didn’t know if I belonged in Blue Knights before auditions, but now I am so incredibly thankful and proud to be a Knight. I first saw Blue Knights Percussion Ensemble in 2013 and made it goal for myself to one day join the ensemble. It is now my second season as the rhythm section leader and I look forward to more seasons!”

Blue Knights Alumni Scholarship

The Blue Knights Alumni Scholarship is funded by alumni contributions to enable a  performer an opportunity to be a part of a Blue Knights ensemble. This is the first year the Blue Knights Alumni Association have provided a scholarship for a member of the Blue Knights Percussion Ensemble.

Malia Oderik is a member of the Blue Knights Percussion Ensemble and Blue Knights Drum & Bugle Corps. She is currently a third year student at Colorado State University studying percussion. She has been playing piano since age four and percussion since age eleven. She began indoor percussion at age fifteen and this is her seventh season in the activity.

“I have been playing music for most of my life and somehow very little music making has touched me in the same way that my time playing in the Blue Knights has,” said Malia. “Building relationships with incredible people while learning from educators who challenge each of us to become better musicians and leaders makes me itch to return every weekend and grow more.”

Photo credit: Domani Barkley

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