Queenstown may have gone quiet during and after lockdown last year, but talented local saxophone player Eliott Allemand didn’t. The gifted teenage musician was still jazzing up some award-winning sounds from his home-based studio, and now it’s paying off.
Disappointed at missing last year’s opportunity – an invitation to compete in the prestigious World Championships of Performing Arts in Hollywood to have been held in July 2020, Eliott instead sought a silver lining. Stuck at home during lockdown he took to the keys and entered two original compositions in the 2020 version of the event, the Virtual World Championships of Performing Arts. Both instrumental tunes were written on the piano, saxophone, drums and bass, which Eliott synched together to earn himself two gold medals.
One of the songs was performed using a loop pedal with Eliott playing guitar, keyboard, saxophone, and doing vocals over the top. “That one was all done in 90 seconds, according to the rules for the competition,” says Eliott.
This month (September 3) he will release the final version of the song, ‘AO’, on Spotify and also on his own YouTube channel where his talents were first spotted by the competition organisers in 2019, prompting the invitation. “It’s my first release in a long time. ‘AO’ just kind of happened during lockdown,” he says. Since then Eliott has also been accepted for Berklee College of Music in Boston, one of the world’s most prestigious and sought-after music colleges, which specialises in contemporary music studies and jazz.
Not only that, but Eliott has been awarded a scholarship to attend.
He was to have set off for the United States this month (September) to start his first semester, however, uncertainty about the timing of his Covid vaccine meant he had to postpone his physical attendance until May next year. The college reopens this month after Covid lockdowns and all students must be vaccinated, Eliott says. “Fortunately at the same time I applied for their online course and began studying through that in January this year gaining credits before I go.” With straight A’s already under his saxophone belt the real thing should hopefully be a breeze.
In the meantime, Eliott, who turns 19 this month, (September) is continuing with his other music endeavours that, by the time he was 17 had already scored him gigs and appearances overseas.
“I’ve been doing heaps of gigs, all private functions like weddings or proposals and busking on the Queenstown waterfront.” His repertoire often includes the likes of Ed Sheeran, John Legend, and Bruno Mars. He’s even shot a cool music video around the Wakatipu basin for his new song.
Eliott didn’t only win a scholarship for Berklee. Otago and Auckland universities also awarded him scholarships which he had to turn down. “Berklee is where most of my music idols and heroes have gone, like Quincy Jones, Charlie Puth, and John Mayer. I’ve always dreamed of going there,” says Eliott. He’s hoping to rub shoulders and make melody with a few big names when he gets there too.
In the meantime, he’s earning all he can from his music here in Queenstown to help fund any extra costs while in the United States.
Check out the new release, ‘AO’ by Eliott Allemand on Spotify or Eliott’s YouTube channel.