Berklee’s High School Jazz Festival Hits Final Note After Half a Century

Allen Bush
January 26, 2019
Press release

The long-running festival was a beacon for young jazz musicians in the United States and beyond.

After more than a half century, Berklee's High School Jazz Festival, the largest competition of its kind in the U.S., has been suspended, the college announced today. In a letter to the college community, Berklee President Roger Brown underscored his multiyear effort of holding Berklee's cost increases down to the lowest level possible while expanding scholarships and financial aid for both entering and continuing students. Reallocating funds from the festival will increase this support and alleviate some of the financial strain faced by studentsThe festival's final notes took place on Saturday, January 26, at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston. 

Through the years, the High School Jazz Festival provided a forum for Berklee faculty adjudicators to offer feedback and guidance to music teachers and their students, and to foster the musical development of young jazz artists. It showcased some of the most advanced high school music programs from across the U.S. and Puerto Rico. This year’s event, the 51st annual, attracted 4,000 students from more than 150 high schools, and more than $175,000 in scholarships was awarded for students to attend the Aspire: Five-Week Music Performance Intensive, the world's preeminent summer musical performance program. 

“I’m very proud of the Berklee High School Jazz Festival and the incredible impact it has had on music education for decades,” said Darla S. Hanley, the festival's executive producer and dean of Berklee's Professional Education Division. “It was a one-of-a-kind event that celebrated music education, and it will be greatly missed.”

Jazz remains a prominent musical style at Berklee. In addition to taking classes in jazz performance, history, and composition, students can explore the genre through such programs as the Berklee Global Jazz Institute, directed by Grammy Award–winning pianist and composer Danilo Pérez, and the Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice, directed by Grammy Awardwinning drummer and composer Terri Lyne Carrington. The college is replete with renowned jazz instructors who bring expertise and artistry to their classrooms, and to the experiences they have as working musicians. 

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