Discover Jazz spotlights middle school musicians

06/02/03 12:00AM By Lynne McCrea
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(Host) The 20th annual Burlington Discover Jazz Festival kicks off Friday. In the seven days of events there will be a range of jazz sounds, from the legendary Sonny Rollins to local performers. There will also be room for some budding young jazz musicians.

VPR's Lynne McCrea has more:


(Sound of teacher instructing students) "Okay, ready? Ready? One, two, three...." (Students begin playing.)

(McCrea) The students at Mater Christi School in Burlington are one of more than 40 school groups who will play this week at the Discover Jazz Festival. Band Director Barb Heath says many of these seventh and eighth graders are fans of some of the jazz greats who'll be playing, like Sonny Rollins.

But the draw of the festival is the chance it gives them to play.

(Heath) "Oh this is a huge opportunity for them to get a chance to perform on Church Street, for the community. They just love to perform they live for it."

(McCrea) Elisa Fitzgerald is managing director of the Burlington Discover Jazz Festival. She says part of the mission is to mix international and local talent for a wide-ranging audience.

(Fitzgerald) "The level of jazz enthusiasts really vary from parents who go out on the marketplace to hear their youngsters, to real aficionados who really understand what Sonny Rollins is doing, and realize all the musical allusions that our international talent are making up on stage as they make the magic that they do."

(McCrea) Fitzgerald is especially excited about this year's culminating concert: a performance of Duke Ellington's "Sacred Concerts," complete with 100 coral singers and a 15-piece band:

(Fitzgerald) "This performance is really the epitome of what the jazz festival mission is all about in terms of trying to bring the whole Vermont community together in Burlington for a week and celebrating the discovery of jazz through an intermingling of international and local talent."

(McCrea) The festival has traditionally drawn more than 50,000 people over the course of the week to dozens of venues including the Flynn main stage, a blues tent, local clubs, and on the marketplace, where you can hear the sounds of aspiring musicians.

For Vermont Public Radio, I'm Lynne McCrea in Burlington.

Related link:
The complete schedule for the Discover Jazz Festival is online.
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