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VCM’s Summer Jazz Workshop Now In Its 24th Year

May 20, 2009

Coastal BC has one of the most active jazz scenes in North America, and soJA1 it’s no surprise that educational opportunities proliferate, particularly in the form of the excellent summer jazz camps based here.

Gordon Clements, Head of Jazz Studies at the Victoria Conservatory of Music (VCM), is justifiably proud of one such camp – the VCM’ s Summer Jazz Workshop of which he is the artistic director.

Clements founded the workshop in 1985 when he taught at UVic, with the express purpose of linking students with the wealth of local talent in our area, including greats like Paul Horn. Now in its 24th year, the two-week workshop attracts students from throughout North America, along with a faculty consisting of a veritable who’s who of west coast jazz musicians.

This year that stellar teaching group includes Don Thompson, Neil Swainson, Louise Rose, Sean Drabitt, Rob Cheramy, Brent Jarvis, Ian McDougall, Joey Smith, Damian Graham, Mike Allen, Walter Martella, and Ross Taggart, along with Misha Piatigorsky, Gergana Velinova, and Willard Dyson from New York.

The camp is divided into a soloist week (July 6-10) and an ensemble week (July 13-18), with vocal and individual instrument masterclasses occurring in the soloist week and big band and combo sessions (along with masterclasses) running in the second week. The first week also includes a popular junior jazz program for middle school students under the direction of Dave Flello.

The workshop appeals to a variety of students equally divided between adults (professional, senior, community, and college) and teenagers with various levels of experience from near beginners to highly skilled players, although Clements says the program regularly attracts some of the best college players in the country.

The public can also participate by enjoying a very full concert schedule that culminates in faculty combo and big band performances in the last week of the camp.

The application deadline is Monday, June 8. For more information call VCM at 250-386-5311 or visit them on the web at http://www.vcm.bc.ca/summerjazz/index.html#Soloist%20Week

Stay tuned for more summer jazz camp info in followup stories this week.

–Rick Gibbs

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