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James Hildebrand

“He is an educator and mentor of incomparable passion. He always made me want to be better at what I did.”

Former Student – George Stevens Academy – Class of 1997

Instrument: Alto Saxophone

Describe how music has impacted your life.
I started playing guitar and then piano in elementary school but didn’t settle on an instrument I loved until 8th grade when the GSA jazz band came to play at Sedgwick Elementary and I knew I wanted to be part of that. I took up the alto sax and made GSA jazz band my goal. It was a defining feature of my high school years, first jazz band then combo as well. We were the first class to have combo designated as a credit-earning subject that we could attend during school hours. We won championships and I played with lifelong friends (including my future wife). Jazz band is still something that people ask me about when I see them around the peninsula, the memories are too many to list, the impact was huge.

Describe your connection to Mr. O
He is an educator and mentor of incomparable passion. He always made me want to be better at what I did. He also had the ability to work as a peer. When our combo played brunch at the Asticou Inn or an evening set at the Barnes and Noble cafe in Bangor he would conduct and then join us on baritone or soprano sax as well. He could be a teacher, bandmate, friend and move between the roles seamlessly.

Describe Mr. O in three words.
Passionate, inspiring, friend

What is your most memorable story involving Mr. O?
My wife (Emily [Lewandowski] Hildebrand) and I were friends growing up and through high school but didn’t get together as a couple until we were in our mid-20s. We knew we wanted to get married at home on the peninsula and when it came to planning the reception there was only one call for a band…Mr.O & company. At that point Emily and I hadn’t been playing music regularly for a while but knew that if Mr. O was playing we wanted to play with him as well. Our friend and combo-mate Jacob Aman was at the wedding as well and all of us prepped and played a couple of songs together which was an awesome experience!

If you could ask Mr. O any question, what would it be?
What keeps you so energetic?!?

Favorite Mr. O quote or phrase:
Fricking Fracking!!! (with accompanying gesticulations)

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