February 18, 2011 12:00AM
Each year, the PSU Jazz Festival seems to grow in popularity. This year the festival, now in its 37th year, will draw 67 ensembles from three states, making it the largest one-day festival of its kind in the Midwest, according to director Bob Kehle. The festival will take place on Friday, March 4, and will end with a 7:30 p.m. performance in Memorial Auditorium featuring the U.S. Army Jazz Ambassadors.
The groups attending include community colleges, high schools, junior high schools and middle schools. During the day, Kehle said, student groups are judged and receive clinics by professional educators from area universities and nationally. This year, judges are coming from as far as East Carolina University and Texas State University. These experts will assign each ensemble a rating and will work with the bands to assist them in improving their performances.
"It is not about winning, but rather about getting better through an educational process," Kehle said. "The judges also look for outstanding musicians in the various ensembles who receive a special citation for outstanding musicianship."
Kehle said the PSU Jazz Festival is a date many schools circle on the calendar each year.
"Many of the schools return year after year," Kehle said. "They make it a high point in their educational process."
In order to accommodate the large number of student musicians, the festival uses space in McCray Hall, the Overman Student Center and both the upper and lower levels of Memorial Auditorium.
"The campus and the community will be full of young musicians all day," Kehle said, "and there are multiple opportunities for music lovers to hear live performances."
The ensemble performances, which begin at 8 a.m. and end at 5 p.m., are open to the public. Additionally, the PSU Jazz Ensemble 1 presents two concerts during the festival. The first is at noon in Memorial Auditorium. The second is as a warm-up to the Jazz Ambassadors at 7:30 p.m., also in Memorial Auditorium. Tickets for the evening concert are free, but required. Tickets are available at the PSU Ticket Office or from the concert sponsors, which include Memorial Auditorium or the Morning Sun.
For ticket information, call the PSU Ticket Office at 620-235-4796.