Nathaniel Hilliard Sextet Debuts at COA

Posted May 27, 2013, at 2:42 p.m.
Last modified June 05, 2013, at 1:39 p.m.
Nathaniel Hilliard performs at Gates Community Center on June 7 with members of the Portland Jazz Quartet
Nathaniel Hilliard performs at Gates Community Center on June 7 with members of the Portland Jazz Quartet

Thursday, June 6, 2013 7:15 p.m. to 7:15 p.m.

Location: College of the Atlantic - Gates Community Center, 105 Eden Street, Bar Harbor, Maine

For more information: Nathaniel Hilliard; 207-288-5015;

BAR HARBOR, ME—On Thursday, June 6 at 7:15 p.m., the Atlantic debuts the Nathaniel Hilliard Sextet with soloists from the Portland Jazz Orchestra. The concert, in the college’s Gates Community Center, includes mostly original jazz compositions by Nathaniel Hilliard, performed by Hilliard, COA faculty member in music John Cooper, members of the Portland Jazz Orchestra, and other local musicians.

The concert showcases a range of jazz styles through Hilliard’s original compositions. Among them are “Take it In Two,” based on the Brazilian bossa nova; “Dolius,” a jazz fusion piece; “Ah-Que-Tu,” a variation on the blues form; “Bud’s Verse,” in bebop tradition; a solo jazz ballad, “Leaving Cazenovia;” and an original arrangement of George Shearing’s jazz standard “Lullaby of Birdland.”

Hilliard will also play an original orchestral piece with Hannah Little ’13 on viola, Dale Quinby ’12 on cello, Cooper on clarinet, and Portland musician Sean Potter on flute.

A resident of Mount Desert Island and 2008 graduate of Mount Desert Island High School, Hilliard studied piano steadily on MDI with Michelle McCann. But his very first piano lesson came from his grandfather, Paul Waldron, a professional musician in the Amherst, MA, area. Hilliard was about eight years old when he became entranced by his grandfather’s performance of the jazz tune “Take Five.”

He began composing during a music theory class at COA. “Then I started to learn more about jazz and improvisation, which really changed how I thought about writing music,” he says. It wasn’t long before Hilliard began taking piano tutorials with Cooper. “John has an incredible mind for music and is truly a great teacher. He’s kept me challenged the whole way, constantly pushing me to continue developing as a musician. In so many ways he’s made this concert possible. I’m really thankful for all that he’s taught me.”

Continues Hilliard, “I’ve always had a strong passion for music, but I never thought I would end up doing something like this—performing a full show of original material and alongside such quality musicians. It’s a dream come true.”

Additional performers are COA adjunct faculty member Michael Bennett on drums, Wellington Gordon on bass, and Portland Jazz Orchestra members Potter on tenor saxophone and flute, Craig Skeffington on trumpet and flugelhorn, and Cooper on alto saxophone and clarinet.

For more information on the 7:15 p.m. debut concert of the Nathaniel Hilliard Sextet on Thursday, June 6 in Gates Community Center, contact Hilliard at, or 207-288-5015.

College of the Atlantic was founded in 1969 on the premise that education should go beyond understanding the world as it is, to enabling students to actively shape its future. A leader in experiential education and environmental stewardship, COA has pioneered a distinctive interdisciplinary approach to learning—human ecology—that develops the kinds of creative thinkers and doers needed by all sectors of society in addressing the compelling and growing needs of our world. For more, visit