Just before winter break last December, Director of Music David Overthrow approached student musician Xavier Leone ’23 with an idea. “You have done a lot musically here; you’ve grown tremendously,” Dave said. “Do you want to do a senior recital?”
At first, Xavier was unsure. “I was a little bit hesitant. I have always been in a band and have not done a lot of solo work,” they recalled. “But I gave it some thought over the break and returned with a list of songs that I wanted to learn and play—songs by artists who inspire me and have been so critical in my musical journey. I came back ready and willing to chase that recital!”
And it couldn’t have turned out better for Xavier, who performed the recital in early May. For the evening, Xavier—who plays eight instruments!—chose alto saxophone because “that is the one I have played the longest” and bass, which they enjoyed playing in recent years. “I thought being multifaceted was important to showcase for this capstone senior recital,” they said. The set list featured a dynamic mix of jazz and R&B songs from artists such as Stevie Wonder, Miles Davis, and Jaco Pastorius.
Backed by Dave on electric bass and visiting musicians Nick Bariluk on piano and Ron Stahl on drums, Xavier put on a fabulous show for the intimate, hand-picked audience in the L. Michael Sheehy ’56 Choral Classroom. But it was not without its challenges. “I was really nervous. Everything came together last-minute because we could not find a piano player right away,” they explained. “Our first practice was two days before the recital on that Friday, and then we rehearsed the hour before the recital. Credit to the caliber of musicians I was playing with. Given all that happened, it went off wonderfully. The best way to describe it is a manifestation of passion. I was really happy and proud of what we accomplished.”
As was Xavier’s Canterbury mentor. “Xavier has been an exceptional music student since they arrived at Canterbury,” Dave said. “While becoming proficient on both the alto sax and electric bass, Xavier has also been a leader in the ensembles they participate in. This recital was a culmination of Xavier’s four years of hard work and dedication and a stepping stone to their next musical journey, which will be at the Berklee College of Music.”
The prestigious Boston, Massachusetts-based college is indeed the next stop for Xavier. “I want to study recording arts and recording technology, and there aren’t a lot of programs as strong as Berklee’s out there, mainly because the majority of music schools target performing artists,” they said. “While I love performing, that is not the direction I want my music career to go. When Berklee accepted me, it was a humbling, surreal experience. But I was incredibly grateful for it.”
Xavier was also quick to share appreciation for their invaluable Canterbury experience. “The Music Department here has been great at making music accessible for me. Even with AP and Honors courses, music is still a prominent part of my schedule and does not feel crammed in,” they said. “For someone who enjoys rigorous academics as much as I enjoy my art, having accessibility to both was a big reason why I came to Canterbury, and it has been phenomenal. I do not think I could have put together my recital and felt as confident in that performance without the support of Mr. Overthrow and my peers.”