High School Jazz Festival Turns 40

The Berklee High School Jazz Festival, the oldest and largest competition of its kind in the United States, will celebrate its 40th anniversary on February 9 at the Hynes Convention Center, 900 Boylston Street in Boston. Throughout the course of the day (between 9:00 A.M. and 5:30 P.M.), more than 3,000 students and 200 bands will compete for tuition scholarships totaling $175,000-the largest amount awarded in the history of the festival.

Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Lawrence Bethune has been involved in each of the festivals over the past four decades. "I've watched this festival grow and evolve into an amazing day of music, education, socializing, and partnering," Bethune says. "When former President Lee Eliot Berk started the festival in 1968, he knew that we would be providing a service to the music education community by offering a chance for high-school students and their band directors to produce the best music they can and interact with the Berklee faculty and students."

In addition to the competition, several Berklee student groups will present concerts, including the Berklee Salsa Ensemble, Berklee Tower of Power Ensemble, the Berklee Rainbow Band, and Berklee Concert Jazz Orchestra directed by faculty members Bernardo Hernandez, Wayne Naus, Phil Wilson, and Greg Hopkins, respectively. Clinics by alumnus John Blackwell '95 (formerly Prince's drummer) and Teri Lyne Carrington (the current drummer for Herbie Hancock) will be held from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Award and scholarship winners will be announced at 6:00 p.m. All events are free and open to the public.

"Roger Brown, Berklee's current president, is a strong supporter of this festival," says Bethune. "He's challenged us to reach more music students and make this the best possible experience for the participants. This is an important event that has touched and improved the musical lives of thousands of young people."