Berklee's High School Jazz Festival Turns 40

Nick Balkin
January 16, 2008

Please visit the High School Jazz Festival section of the Berklee website for more information.

Berklee's annual High School Jazz Festival, the oldest and largest competition of its kind in the United States, will celebrate its 40th anniversary, Saturday, February 9, at the Hynes Convention Center, 900 Boylston Street, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The public is invited to attend as more than 3,000 students and 200 bands will perform and compete for tuition scholarships totaling $175,000-the highest amount awarded in the history of the festival.

Berklee's High School Jazz Festival, originally known as the New England High School Stage Band Festival, was initiated by former college president Lee Eliot Berk. At the first competition, there were 21 bands, and Rush-Henrietta Central High School Band, directed by Thomas Ghidiu, was the winning ensemble. Over the years, thousands of high school students and music educators have benefited from the performance evaluations, clinics, workshops, and scholarship opportunities available.

Lawrence Bethune, Berklee's vice president for student affairs/dean of students, 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 and education," he says. "This is an important event that has touched and improved the musical lives of thousands of young people."

In addition to the competition of the participants, there will be concerts presented by Berklee student groups including the Berklee Salsa Ensemble, Berklee Tower of Power Ensemble, the Berklee Rainbow Band, and Berklee Concert Jazz Orchestra and directed by faculty members Bernardo Hernandez, Wayne Naus, Phil Wilson, and Greg Hopkins respectively. Clinics by alumni John Blackwell '95 (drummer for Prince and Justin Timberlake) and Teri Lyne Carrington (current drummer for Herbie Hancock) will be held from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. Announcements of the winners of awards and scholarships will take place at 6:00 p.m. All events are free and open to the public.

Full schedule:

Berklee Salsa Ensemble (concert), directed by assistant professor Bernardo Hernandez, room 300, 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

Berklee Tower of Power Ensemble (concert), directed by associate professor Wayne Naus, room 300, 1:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.

Professor Teri Lyne Carrington (drum clinic), room 100, 2:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.

Berklee Rainbow Band (concert), directed by professor Phil Wilson, Veterans Memorial Auditorium, 2:15 p.m. - 3:15 p.m.

Alumnus John Blackwell (drum clinic), room 100, 3:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Berklee Concert Jazz Orchestra (concert), directed by professor Greg Hopkins, Veterans Memorial Auditorium, 4:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.