Connor Rutten of Maria Carrillo High School


Swing Set, the jazz combo Connor Rutten founded when he was a student at Santa Rosa’s Maria Carrillo High School, has earned raves in performances at festivals and special events.
That includes the group’s first-place performance at the 2012 Reno Jazz Festival that was uploaded to YouTube.
In the video, Rutten, 18, is obviously in his element as Swing Set delivers a compelling version of Jean-Luc Ponty’s ballad “Pastoral Harmony.”
Rutten plays the alto sax, an instrument he said he enjoys because of its full sound and because he feels he can jam on it.
“Alto is fun,” he said.
His next gig is at UCLA, where he will begin classes in the fall. Westwood will be a big change for Rutten, who graduated May 25 from Maria Carrillo.
At the high school, Rutten founded an engineering club for students who shared his passion for math and science and to connect them with professionals who are doing work in those fields.
Rutten said some people have the false impression that engineers all drive trains, when in reality they do many different kinds of jobs.
Rutten’s dream is to become a civil engineer and to help build a major solar installation project. To get there, he’ll have to face a pretty rigorous course load at UCLA. He said some of the classes “sound difficult, but I see it as more of a challenge that I’ve accepted.”
He’s not planning to spend all of his time with his nose buried in a book, however. He’s hoping for an invitation to join UCLA’s marching band and to network with companies that might one day give his career a boost.
Rutten said he’ll miss Maria Carrillo and the friends he made at the school. But “I’m more excited for the future at this point and leaving the past behind.”

You can reach Staff Writer Derek Moore at 521-5336 or

Connor Rutten
Age: 18
Birthplace: Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland
Lives with: Dad, Patrick, and Mom, Nancy.
What’s in his cellphone: songs, music apps, tuner, Angry Birds, YouTube
Favorite hobby: Playing sax at home
Dream job: Solar energy construction consultant
Favorite TV show: “The Amazing Race”
Favorite food: Mexican
Quote: Matthew 6:34