High school music students descend on university

NANAIMO – Annual West Coast Jazz Festival happens at Vancouver Island University Thursday (May 1).

The West Coast Jazz Festival will continue a 25-year tradition of high school music competition at Vancouver Island University and culminate in a feature concert Thursday (May 1) performed by music adjudicators and top school bands.

The feature concert will begin at 6:30 pm with invited high school music students from the West Coast Jazz Grade 12 All-Star Jazz Combo, coached by recently retired VIU music professor Steve Jones, and the Alberni District Secondary Senior Jazz Band, directed by Sarah Falls, who is also coordinator for this year’s festival.

Adjudicators for the 1,000 students expected for the regional MusicFest Canada competition will perform at 7 p.m. Jon Challoner on trumpet, Phil Dwyer on piano, Ken Lister on bass, Campbell Ryga on saxophone, and Hans Verhoeven on drums are featured performers, with special guests from the Nanaimo Musicians Association Big Band, directed by VIU music department chairman Bryan Stovell.

High school jazz music students from all over Vancouver Island and the mainland will converge on VIU’s Malaspina Theatre and music building to compete for the chance to advance to the national level competition, says Stovell, who started the West Coast Jazz Festival when he was teaching high school music 25 years ago.

“Our senior music students at VIU are involved in running the festival,” he said. “This gives students thinking of pursuing music studies after high school a chance to talk to students at VIU who are in our program.”

Tickets at $10. To reserve, please call Stovell at 250-390-4149.