CityJazz Festival puts accent on music education for youth

Wednesday October 10, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- Berkshires Jazz is bringing the "edutainment" factor to this week’s Pittsfield CityJazz Festival.

"We have a two-fold mission: One is to present jazz events, the other is to present music education -- jazz, specifically -- in the county," said Edward Bride, president of Berkshires Jazz Inc.

The organization is hosting the Pittsfield CityJazz Festival now through Saturday.

The festival this year offers a more robust program featuring young musicians and connecting them with professional artists, at no cost to schools and students. The programs are supported by grants through local banks, cultural supporters and Target.

Tonight at 7, 18-year-old Adam O’Farrill of Brooklyn, will play a free program at the Berkshire Athenaeum as part of the festival’s Jazz Prodigy series.

"Every year we try to bring in an outstanding young artist. Adam has deep-down jazz roots," said Berkshires Jazz secretary Phil Tierney.

Adam O’Farrill is the son of Grammy Award-winning pianist Arturo O’Farrill and classical pianist Alison Deane, and is the grandson of legendary Afro-Cuban jazz composer Chico O’Farrill. Adam O’Farrill started piano at age 6 and trumpet at 8.

He told The Eagle on Tuesday that he’ll be bringing a new experimental group of rising musicians to perform with.

"It’s an amazing experience to do something like this, but my favorite part is really just to be able to showcase my music, whether it’s something big or a smaller gig," O’Farrill said.

In addition, Bride said both festival headliners, including pianist Frederick Moyer of the Jazz Arts Trio, and associates of the New England Jazz Ensemble "will be serving double-duty and helping us achieve our mission of nurturing jazz education."

On Thursday, more than 100 music students from Reid and Herberg middle schools will be transported to the Berkshire Museum for a morning presentation with Moyer.

Moyer "does a great job connecting the common elements between classical music and jazz. I call it from Bach to Brubeck," Tierney said.

On Friday, the Pittsfield Sister City Jazz Ambassadors, led by musician Andy Kelly, will begin a three-week effort to bring jazz into schools for performances, demonstrations and lectures.

"This is done in association with us by exposing students to music in their own environment, which is what Andy Kelly’s group does. The kids really catch the enthusiasm of that. It’s what we call ‘edutainment,’" Bride said.

On Saturday afternoon, the New England Jazz Ensemble will host a clinic on musical improvisation for the middle school students with support from various cultural grants and sponsors. At 8 p.m., the New England Jazz Ensemble will perform with the Williams College jazz ensemble as its opening act, and special guest artists, jazz/blues vocalist Giacomo Gates and flutist Ali Ryerson.

"Part of what we’re doing is creating a knowledgeable audience," said Bride. "There are more jazz groups than ever before but we need students coming up to keep populating these groups and keep them going."


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