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Jazz Festival draws hundreds to campus

The sounds of jazz could be heard across the campus of McPherson College as nearly 450 musicians participated in the fifth annual Jazz Festival on Thursday, November 1.

This year, 24 groups from 18 area high schools performed and participated in an on-stage clinic with a professional jazz educator. Clinicians included Daryl Batchelor, retired Hutchinson Community College director of jazz studies; Gregg Walker, retired jazz educator and adjunct of woodwinds at McPherson College; and Joe Clements and Steve Hatfield, Wichita area jazz artists and educators.

Director of bands and associate professor of music at McPherson College, Kyle Hopkins, said the idea for the annual jazz festival came from band directors asking for quality jazz band education. The festival is held each year in the fall, typically a time when marching band overshadows other aspects of a band program, and has grown in size each year.

“Jazz is the quintessential American art form,” Hopkins said. “In studying jazz, you can’t separate the music from the history of jazz, which is American history. What a great thing to teach our kids! Especially in a time when co-curricular classes are experiencing a squeeze, forcing many of them out of school curriculums.”

Awards were given for outstanding individual musicianship and each group was rated and critiqued on its performance.