Music students from John Barsby Community School, Wellington Secondary School and Nanaimo District Secondary School rehearse in the Barsby music room on Feb. 26. (Josef Jacobson/The News Bulletin)

The 19th annual Harbour City Jazz Society Jazzfest is coming to the Port Theatre

Concert will feature 200 high school students and guest vocalist Dee Daniels

Around 200 music students from John Barsby Community School, Wellington Secondary School and Nanaimo District Secondary School will take to the Port Theatre stage on Friday for the 19th annual Harbour City Jazz Society Festival.

“It’s hard to believe it’s gone by that fast,” NDSS band teacher Rick Becker said.

“We embarked on an ambitious project and it was successful right from the start and we’ve been very pleased with the outcome every year since then. It’s been an amazing thing.”

The concert will feature individual school bands as well as a mixed “all-star band” made up of students from each school. Proceeds from the concert will go back to the schools for use in a musical capacity.

“Some schools use it for scholarships so that students can attend international jazz festivals and subsidize when a student can’t afford to go on a trip but deserves to go on a trip and some schools use it for tickets to concerts for their whole classes,” Becker said.

This year’s guest artist is Vancouver jazz vocalist Dee Daniels. She will perform on her own, with the all-stars and with the music teachers.

Becker said the Barsby, Wellington and NDSS teachers reached out to Daniels because they’ve seen her perform and give workshops at music festivals in the past.

“She not only trains vocal technique but she also trains musicianship at a basis that kids really like,” he said.

“You feel like she’s talking right at you even though you’re in a large crowd.”

Becker said it’s gratifying to follow the students’ development and watch they demonstrate their ability at the Port Theatre.

“You start with them in Grade 8 and they work their up so when they get to the all-star stage it’s really enjoyable and really rewarding to listen to them, how excellently they perform,” he said.

“But I think at all levels, no matter what grade level, no matter how experienced the students are, it’s always a real joyful feeling that they can accomplish this.”

Next year the Harbour City Jazz Society will hold its 20th concert. Becker said organizers are exploring different ways of celebrating the milestone and may expand it to a two-day festival.

“Stay tuned for the 20th year because we are planning some big stuff,” he said.

WHAT’S ON … The Harbour City Jazz Society presents Jazzfest 2018 featuring Dee Daniels at the Port Theatre on Friday, March 9 at 7 p.m. All seats $12.

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