Henry Acker DjangoFest / Saga Award Winner

Henry Acker Winner of THE 2016 SAGA DJANGOFEST AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING YOUNG MUSICIANSHIP IN THE GENRE OF GYPSY JAZZ. Henry Acker (2004) grew up in a musical family.  His dad, Victor Acker and uncle, Dana Acker, are both Berklee College of Music alumni that have performed in and around Boston for many years.  Young Henry enjoyed watching the rehearsals with various bands that passed through the house.  During a break, the eight-year old picked up a guitar and casually rattled off a very adult jazz riff that left everyone in the room stunned.  The light switch had clicked on.  The music of Django had profoundly captivated the lad.  He studied it day and night.  A sit-in with Frank Vignola and the venerable, Bucky Pizzarelli, led Vignola to invite him to study privately with him.  Henry thrived under Vignola.  His precocious guitar playing went from being cute to formidable.  At eleven, Vignola invited him to perform at the Capitol Theater in Salt Lake City with a roster of international greats.  This led to performances with Rhythm Future and a special guest appearance at Django By the Sea in 2016.  His trajectory is training skyward.  He has immersed himself in the history of Gypsy Jazz and is excited to stand on the shoulders of all the guitar giants that came before him.  Ladies and gentleman, introducing Henry Acker!
Award Winners

  • 2006 Annie Staninec
  • 2007 Sammo Miltich
  • 2008 Jason Annick
  • 2011 Antoine Boyer
  • 2013 Gloria Ferry-Brennan
  • 2014 Quinn Bachand
  • 2015 Max O’Rourke
  • 2016 Noé Reine
  • 2017 Henry Acker


Some previous recipients! From left to right; Max O’Rourke, Noé Reine, Nick Lehr (our director), Quinn Bachand, Jason Annick and Ivan Pena. (Photo Provided by Tommy Davy)

DjangoFest/Saga Award History
In 2005, upon the passing of Dudley Hill, as a way of remembering him and his unique musical gift, the award for Outstanding Young Musicians was created.  The first award winner was not a person, but rather the Langley High School Music Department and the prize was a double-bass.  The following year the Award went to Annie Staninec and she received a violin from Saga.  Since then we’ve had nine other winners, as listed.  Sadly, as the years go by, more members of the DjangoFest community have passed on.  It is in their memory that we continue with this program, which we hope highlights the future masters of the genre.

The dear departed are listed below.  This year is in memory of our good friend, Larry Coryell, who played at the festival in 2007 and is remembered for his vast contribution to American music.  We want to thank Saga Music for their continued sponsorship of this program and their generous support of DjangoFest over the years.

In Memory Of:

  • Dudley Hill
  • Michael Nutt
  • Drew Bamber
  • Patrick Saussois
  • Beryl Davis
  • Tony Ballogg
  • Judith Yeakel
  • Dan Hicks
  • Larry Coryell


Larry Coryell at DFNW 2007