Jazz festival brings statewide talent to Texas State


Photo By Richard Molnar

Ivy Sandoval

The 29th annual Hill Country Jazz Festival will be hosted by Texas State this year. The event is set to last all-day, starting at 8 a.m. Feb. 9, with performances in both the Performing Arts Center Recital Hall and Evans Auditorium.

The night before kicks off the jazz festivities with the Eddie Durham Celebration, an all-star big band concert honoring San Marcos native Eddie Durham, a pioneer in jazz guitar and arranger and composer for many bands. Starting at 7:30 p.m. in Evans Auditorium, it is free and open to the public.

Saturday features various high school jazz bands from across the state performing from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in both the Performing Arts Hall and Evans Auditorium.

During the break from the day and night concerts, there will be a jazz clinic given by the Count Basie Orchestra to both the high school players and general public. It covers a wide range of jazz-related topics as well as a question panel.

A concert will proceed into the night, featuring the Texas State Jazz Ensemble, performing with a well-known jazz guest artist, the Count Basie Orchestra. The Count Basie Orchestra concert is Saturday night and is free for all Texas State students and $15 for the general public.

The night concerts will last up to two hours. In addition to the performances, awards will be given to the most outstanding bands and soloists.

As a highly anticipated event with a large turnout from all over Texas, planning the festival begins quite early. In May, planners begin securing guest artists and reserving the rooms and buildings necessary. Applications go out to high schools in October, and then continue being turned in and reviewed from then up until the festival.

Utah Hamrick, director of jazz studies, said he loves putting on the festival, as San Marcos is a great town for jazz. He enjoys the long preparation.

“I’d like to think that almost 30 years of this festival and the celebration of San Marcos native Eddie Durham for the last 15 years have helped to bring more jazz to the community, and strengthened the relationship between our school’s jazz program and the city,” Hamrick said. “It is an absolute pleasure to be able to put this festival on every year.”

The jazz festival was founded by a Texas State professor looking to bring more interest to the art of jazz.

Keith Winking, professor of trumpet and jazz, started the jazz festival his first year teaching at Texas State in 1989. Texas State only had one jazz band and class at the time, so Winking took a step to highlight the beauty of the genre.

“The festival helped build interest in jazz at Texas State and an increase in the jazz curriculum, which eventually led to the implementation of our current bachelor and master degrees in jazz.”

Peyton Smith, sociology junior, said she did not know the festival was going on but was intrigued by it.

“It sounds really interesting and it would be exciting to see local students perform,” Smith said. “Seeing them perform on the Texas State campus and seeing the talent from different schools would be cool.”

The Jazz Festival will expose the community to the soothing yet robust genre of jazz music while highlighting the talent from all around Texas. More information on the festival can be found on Texas State’s homepage website under upcoming events.

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