Young jazz stars to shine at Gauteng Big Band Jazz Festival

Once again, St Mary’s School in Johannesburg will be swinging and jiving to the sweet sounds of youth jazz bands when the fourth annual Gauteng Big Band Jazz Festival takes place over the weekend of 15 and 16 May 2015.

This regional music festival, which showcases high school, college and community jazz bands, is the ‘little sister’ to the long-established Cape Town Big Band Jazz Festival.

Supported by the SAMRO Foundation, the Gauteng festival has grown by leaps and bounds in stature since it began in 2012.

Says founder Ann Barr: ‘We are thrilled that the Gauteng Big Band Jazz Festival is bringing the magic of jazz to the youth and is providing a platform for performance, as well as creating a forum where jazz is enjoyed at school level in an atmosphere that encourages exceptional musicianship.’

The participating big bands:

  • Tshwane University of Technology Big Band, under the mentorship of Louis Drummond van Rensburg, mainly comprises second- and third-year jazz majors.
  • Saxes of Note from St Stithians Girls’ College is a six-piece, all-girls saxophone ensemble of saxophone players who are pupils of Shirli-Anne van Vledder.
  • St Mary’s Waverley Senior Jazz Band, conducted by Ceri Moelwyn-Hughes, aims to foster a love of jazz among pupils while teaching the girls valuable music skills.
  • Pretoria Boys’ High Big Band, conducted by Matthew Lombard, boasts full saxophone, trumpet and trombone sections.
  • St John’s College Big Band employs a standard format of five saxophones, four trumpets, four trombones, guitar, piano, bass and drums.
  • St Alban’s College Band performs a variety of styles such as jazz, rock, disco, pop and South African popular styles, conducted by Karin Groenewald.
  • Cornwall Hill College Big Band is a young, innovative big band from Centurion with an adaptable flute section, under the direction of Eddie Clayton.
  • Johannesburg Youth Jazz Ensemble, under the leadership of jazz trombonist John Davies, plays a variety of jazz styles and also improvises.
  • Pridwin P’zazz Jazz Band is a constantly evolving group of young musicians aged between 11 and 13 years, conducted by Angie Elliott.

André le Roux of the SAMRO Foundation says: ‘It’s an honour for us to play a role in cultivating an appreciation of jazz music among young South African musicians. As an event committed to cultural diversity while providing top-drawer entertainment, the Gauteng Big Band Jazz Festival is destined for great things.’

Audiences are invited to come and witness the next generation of big band jazz musicians in action at The Edge at St Mary’s in Waverley at 19:30 on Friday, 15 May and Saturday, 16 May 2015. Tickets cost R100 for adults and R50 for students and senior citizens, and are available at Computicket.

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