Nearly 300 students from 14 area high schools and a middle school participated in the McPherson College Jazz Festival. The festival, which has drawn hundreds of young musicians to campus for the past seven years, was a virtual event this year.
Jazz bands submitted video performances that clinicians adjudicated to determine ratings and awards. This year’s clinicians included Kyle Hopkins, director of bands and associate professor of music at McPherson College; Brad Shores, retired music educator and adjunct of percussion; and Gregg Walker, retired music educator and adjunct of woodwinds.
Hopkins said the idea for the annual jazz festival came from area band directors asking for a quality jazz festival in the fall to support jazz education at a time of year when marching band tends to overshadow other aspects of a public school’s band program. The festival is held annually in the fall and continues to grow 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! With the pandemic, band directors have faced huge challenges in how to engage their students musically while keeping them safe and healthy. So I’m particularly proud of the schools that were able to find creative ways to participate in the jazz festival this year.” Highlights from the performances can be viewed at https://youtu.be/M5fWFgPcs0U.
Participating schools include Abilene High School, Arkansas City High School, Dodge City High School, Junction City High School, Lansing High School, McPherson High School, McPherson Middle School, Newton High School, Riley County High School, Salina Central High School, Scott Community High School, Smoky Valley High School, and Sterling High School.