February 25, 2015

Area students swing into Jazz Festival Saturday

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- A goal of the SIU Jazz Festival is teaching music students to get off the page. 

The annual event, scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 28, at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, is an educational and competitive event for junior high and high school musicians from the region. On the outside, it looks like a straight-forward music festival: bands play at set times, they receive critiques and a personalized seminar, they hear a collegiate band with a specially invited guest, and have the opportunity to return home with band, section or individual trophies. 

What’s extra about this festival, comes from the nature of the music itself. Jazz is American through and through – not only was it born from a melting pot of musical influences and different cultures, but it has influenced other genres of music as well. Learning about jazz is to learn about American multiculturalism. Richard Kelley, SIU coordinator of jazz studies, hopes students will personalize the experience and find a way to make jazz music more their own. 

“Jazz is a true American art form that has served as the backbone for so many other genres of music,” he said. “These young musicians come together at this festival and share jazz music with one another; I think they leave with a greater appreciation and interest in jazz, which can lead them to the discovery of even more music.” 

Another important feature of jazz is the capacity it has for expansion. “Jazz is about improvisation,” Kelley said. “We all improvise in many ways, but through jazz, improvisation happens on a deeper level. Giving these young musicians a chance to create and to share their talents is what it’s all about. The students really seem to enjoy playing for their peers.” 

This year’s guest musician is trumpet player Tito Carrillo, associate professor of jazz trumpet at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. He will teach a masterclass and also perform with the student ensemble, the SIU Studio Jazz Orchestra and with New Arts Jazztet, an SIU faculty jazz performing and recording ensemble. 

Performances are in Altgeld Hall. Here is a schedule of participating schools and performance times:

  • 9 a.m. -- Marion Junior High School.
  • 9:25 a.m. -- Cape Central Junior High School, Cape Girardeau, Mo.
  • 9:50 a.m. -- Carterville High School
  • 10:15 a.m. -- Northwest High School, St. Louis
  • 10:40 a.m. -- Cape Central High School, ensemble No. 1, Cape Girardeau
  • 11:05 a.m. -- Kelly High School, Benton, Mo.
  • 2:15 p.m. -- Jackson High School, Jackson, Mo.
  • 2:40 p.m. -- Cape Central High School, ensemble No. 2, Cape Girardeau
  • 3:05 p.m. -- Rickover Naval Academy, Chicago
  •  3:30 p.m. – Sesser-Valier High School
  • 3:55 p.m. – De Soto High School, De Soto, Mo.
  • 4:20 p.m. – Dexter High School, Dexter, Mo. 

Other performances are:

  • Noon – SIU Studio Jazz Orchestra with Tito Carrillo.
  • 5:30 p.m. – New Arts Jazztet with Tito Carrillo, and awards ceremony.