Jazz singer, arranger, pianist composer, Amanda Tiffin becomes first woman to lead the Standard Bank National Youth Jazz Band.
The 2018 Standard Bank Jazz Festival taking place in Grahamstown during National Arts Festival from 27 June to 7 July this year sees the festival’s first female conductor at the helm of the annually-constituted Standard Bank National Youth Jazz Band (SBNYJB). Jazz singer, arranger, pianist and composer Amanda Tiffin has been appointed to lead the cream of the country’s young musicians.
Now entering its 31st year, as the oldest jazz festival on the African continent, the SBJF has premium pedigree of training and development alongside producing a world class programme of performances.
When Amanda Tiffin leads the newly-chosen group of young musicians of the SBNYJB, she will be joining a long line of visionary conductors and musicians – such as Zim Ngqawana, Darius Brubeck, Barney Rachabane and Carlo Mombelli – who have helped train generations of South African jazz greats.
From 27 June to 2 July 2018 over 300 of the country’s top young musicians will gather in Jazztown for the weeklong training and development programme of the Standard Bank National Youth Jazz Festival (SBNYJF). Alumni of this programme include award-winning pianist and rising film score composer, Kyle Shepherd, saxophonist Sisonke Xonti, bassist Shane Cooper, Dominic Peters of the band Goldfish, Cape Town born and Norway based Shannon Mowday and KZN born saxophonist Linda Sikhakhane who is now based in New York where he is pursuing his studies at NYU.
The best among the participating young musicians are selected into one of two bands at the end of the festival, the SBNYJB featuring the top young jazz musicians aged 19 – 25 years and which Tiffin will conduct; and the Standard Bank National Schools Big Band made up of the top school jazz musicians in the country. This year the big band will be conducted by visiting American trumpeter, Gordon Vernick, who is also Professor of Music and Coordinator of Jazz Studies at Georgia State University.
“An important part of what makes SBNYJF successful is precisely our youth focus. Students and young musicians get unprecedented access and opportunity to learn from an array of top jazz musicians from across the world. They also get to build lifelong career relationships with their peers from around the country. The testament of the festival’s success is in the quality of the students who’ve been through it over the years,” says Alan Webster, Director of the Standard Bank Jazz Festival.
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*Jazztown is what the Standard Bank Grahamstown Jazz Festival is colloquially known as; with hundreds of musicians, students and fans descending on the DSG campus for 10 days of incredible jazz performances.