Jazz festival provides experience for musical youth

Photo courtesy of UMAC.

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The St. George Jazz Festival took place at Dixie State University for its third year, celebrating the centuryold music genre and providing educational opportunities for middle and high school students.

Last Friday, students from St. George middle and high school jazz bands performed in concerts and attended a clinic with professional jazz musician Andy Martin. More concerts and clinics were held on Saturday with a performance by Bria Skonberg at the Cox auditorium that night.

Glenn Webb, assistant professor of music, said the festival was first inspired by the St. George Arts Council, which pushed for the festival to happen. The festival was funded through a combination of sponsors including the St. George Arts Council and the Recreation, Arts and Parks tax, he said.

“This music is still very much alive and has influenced so many of the popular styles [of music] that have come since Jazz,” said Amanda Morrill, DSU alumni and festival board member. “Almost every school in America at the middle school and high school levels has a jazz band.”

Morrill said the festival is a good avenue for students to perform and meet professionals in the industry. She said jazz can still be heard in radio and television advertisements as well as movie soundtracks.

“This is an example of the active learning, active life,” Webb said. “You can get your fine arts general education taken care of through the jazz history course, but then we bring it to life here.”

Tabitha Nygaard, DSU alumni and jazz festival board member, said there are a lot of jazz festivals throughout the country. She said these other festivals bring bands together for people to enjoy the music, but the St. George Jazz Festival is focused more on education than appreciation. They bring the middle and high school students to the festival so they can learn from professionals, she said.

DSU students are involved in the festival as volunteers and there are alumni from the university who are members of the Rebel Jazz Band, Morrill said.

The St. George Jazz Festival is an ongoing thing and is gaining momentum, Webb said. He said DSU students should come to the festival in support of the arts and because they bring jazz musicians to St. George instead of taking a field trip to New York or Hollywood through study abroad.