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by Rike Franke
posted 03/05/2018

Sydney Con International Jazz Festival 2018

International stars and jazz heavyweights descend upon Sydney as the University of Sydney’s Conservatorium of Music together with the Open Academy hosts its second ever International Jazz Festival on Sunday 3 June.

Artistic Director and Head of the Sydney Conservatorium Jazz Studies Program, David Theak was thrilled with the response to the inaugural event which celebrated the very best international, national and local music. “The festival was formed in 2017 with Australian jazz at its core. When we refer to the festival as ’international’ we refer not only to acts such as the astonishing Gretchen Parlato’s Flor project but we also include in this our own revered artists who take their place on the international stage”.

Nestled in the Royal Botanic Gardens on Sydney Harbour, this year’s festival will take advantage of the world-class performance facilities of the University of Sydney’s Conservatorium of Music. With the exception of vocal support, Theak has taken an acoustic performance philosophy by selecting artists who perform without amplification so audiences can enjoy the music as it was designed to be heard.

The diverse program features over 90 musicians in 24 master-classes and concerts. Given the enthusiastic response to last year’s inaugural event, Theak has programmed 2018 with the same principles in mind; a headline concert, leading international artists collaborating with Australian musicians, rarely-heard national ensembles of excellence, cutting-edge Sydney artists and dynamic artists of tomorrow mentored by our top jazz musicians. 

Audiences have been anticipating the long-awaited Australian tour of Grammy-nominated vocalist Gretchen Parlato. Named by DownBeat Magazine as #1 Rising Star and winner of the prestigious Thelonious Monk Vocal Competition, she has been hailed by international media as one of the most exciting vocalists of this generation. With her blend of African and Brazilian inspired cross-genre jazz, The New York Times have praised Parlato’s ability to pry open sweet spots in her interpretations of jazz standards and pop tunes, calling her an “extraordinary singer”.

In their first visit to Australia, New York giant of the contemporary jazz scene, tenor Tony Malaby and formidable Canadian improvising pianist Kris Davies collaborate with Australian percussionist Simon Barker. 

Other festival highlights include; Berlin-based pianist Magda Mayas and drummer Tony Buck (PERIL, The Necks), pianist and Australia Council Fellow, Barney McAll’s ARIA award-winning ASIO project, Stu Hunter’s: The Migration which comprises “one of the great horn sections in Australian music history” (John Shand, Sydney Morning Herald), multi-award-winning artist and Freedman Fellow, pianist Andrea Keller in duo with Don Banks Award recipient, legendary pianist Mike Nock and Jonathan Zwartz’s new ten-piece project, Animarum.

Trad-lovers will hear popular Sydney group Geoff Bull and the Finer Cuts headlining on the Feel-Good Stage. A new initiative in this year’s program, continuous swinging ensembles will perform throughout the day in the relaxed atmosphere of the Con Café.

Theak, who is a tireless advocate for jazz in Australia, has again made education a central component to this year’s program. Gold, Day and Morning festival pass holders will gain access to six masterclasses that include Gretchen Parlato and Tony Malaby. Theak has also devised a mentoring program that sees Conservatorium students work with esteemed leaders of the Australian jazz scene; guitarist Stephen Magnusson, vocalist Josh Kyle, bassist Jonathan Zwartz and pianist Barney McAll. 

The University’s Conservatorium of Music’s jazz program is one of the most highly regarded in Australia and overseas. Students work alongside some of Australia’s best-known jazz musicians and composers, and are trained in improvisation, ensemble playing and repertoire development. Classes in jazz music and business skills prepare graduates for the non-musical aspects of their career. The program includes three big bands and 11 small ensembles, with many opportunities for performance at the Con and at jazz festivals. In 2018, the University launched a revamped Bachelor of Music to include a new program in Improvised Music focused on research-based improvisation, including but not limited to the jazz tradition.

What: Sydney Con International Jazz Festival

When: Sunday, 3rd June, 10am to 9pm

Where: Sydney Conservatorium of Music, 1 Conservatorium Road, Sydney

To Find Out More & To Book Online Click Here  

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