The Giroux Honors Jazz Combo from SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music includes, from left, Thomas Avella, Ian Dennis, Sofia Coyle, Aidan Smith, Joshua Barkley and Skye Hamilton-Carranza.

POTSDAM, NY – Six students from SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music have been invited to perform at the 2019 New York State Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Observances in Albany on Monday, Jan. 21.

The Giroux Honors Jazz Combo will perform an original work by undergraduate composers Thomas Avella ’19 and Skye Hamilton-Carranza ’19 during the ceremony. The piece, titled “Ascension (When I Rise Up),” is based upon a poem by Harlem Renaissance poet Georgia Douglas Johnson.

The two Crane student composers will perform the piece along with the other members of the select group, including:

  • Thomas Avella of Stony Brook, N.Y. (saxophone)
  • Joshua Barkley of Madrid, N.Y. (piano)
  • Sofia Coyle of Middletown, N.Y. (vocals)
  • Ian Dennis of Brooklyn, N.Y. (drums)
  • Skye Hamilton-Carranza of Freeport, N.Y. (saxophone)
  • Aidan Smith of Cortlandt Manor, N.Y. (bass)

The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Observances celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. King with performers, presenters, a “King the Man” video moment, an invocation by Rabbi Linda Motzkin, a benediction by Rev. Ronald Grant, and more.

SUNY Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson will serve as a guest presenter this year. Former NFL running back Rashad Jennings is the keynote speaker and the Tony Award-winning Broadway performer Lillias White will be the special performer.

The ceremony will be held at 10 a.m. on Monday, in the Empire State Plaza Convention Center. It will also stream live online, at

The Giroux Honors Jazz Combo is a select group at The Crane School of Music, established by George Giroux ’54 and Mary Ellen Giroux ’53. Students in the ensemble receive both scholarship and program support. Five members of the Giroux family will also be in attendance at the ceremony on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

About The Crane School of Music:

Founded in 1886, SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music has a long legacy of excellence in music education and performance. Life at Crane includes an incredible array of more than 300 recitals, lectures and concerts presented by faculty, students and guests each year. The Crane School of Music is the State University of New York’s only All-Steinway institution. For more information, please visit