Riley Mulherkar, pictured here playing Flugenhorn, will be heading to Julliard next year.
The same day Riley Mulherkar competed in the Essentially Ellington jazz competition with the rest of the Garfield High School jazz band, he also auditioned for entrance into the jazz studies program at The Juilliard School.
According to Mulherkar, five minutes after the audition, Carl Allen, the artistic director of the jazz department, told Mulherkar, “I know you have a performance tonight and I hope this news doesn’t dampen your playing, but I’m sorry to have to tell you that you’ve been accepted to Juilliard.”
Mulherkar, Garfield’s lead trumpet player, completely “fell for it.”
He started the day by performing with the band before judges at Essentially Ellington. Garfield was announced as one of the top three bands. He then went next door to Juilliard to audition. After a 20-minute interview, and the 20-minute audition, he was told he got in. That’s not the way it usually happens, but Juilliard put in a rush order because a few spots unexpectedly opened up during the admission process. Mulherkar had been accepted to the New England Conservatory of Music, and had all but decided to go when Juilliard called.
After the audition, he played the evening concert at Alice Tully Hall, soloing with Wynton Marsalis, before Garfield was announced the winner of Essentially Ellington for the fourth time overall and the second time in a row. To top it off, Mulherkar was named the winner of the Ella Fitzgerald award for outstanding soloist.
“It was a huge day,” said Mulherkar, who got a partial scholarship to attend Juilliard. “I saw the Juilliard students play together at Essentially Ellington (at Dizzy’s club). I like the idea of being close to Lincoln Center.”
He will join friend Andy Clausen (the Roosevelt High trombonist who also competed at Ellington), who received a scholarship to attend Juilliard. Garfield alum Tatum Greenblatt got his master’s at Juilliard. He lives in New York and occasionally plays with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra.
Mulherkar is not the only musician from Garfield’s winning band who will study jazz in college. Alto saxophonist Evan Shay will attend Montreal’s McGill University on scholarship; Bassist Carmen Rothwell is enrolling in the University of Washington’s jazz studies program; and drummer James Squires has been accepted to Berklee although he has not yet announced a decision.