Musicians prepare for jazz festival

Twelve talented jazz students from across the nation will vie for $20,000 in cash awards as finalists in the James Morrison Jazz Scholarship and the GIJ Vocal Scholarship this month.

Generations in Jazz chairman Peter Roberts said six finalists had been selected for each scholarship category, aged from 15 to 21 years of age. 

The finalists were selected after submitting an audition recording which was then adjudicated by a panel of selectors, including GIJ artistic director James Morrison.

“Drawn from Queensland, Western Australia, Victoria and South Australia, there is a great representation of young Australian music talent, ranging from university music students to a year 10 secondary school student,” Mr Roberts said.

“They were selected from more than 40 applicants this year which is extremely heartening given the very uncertain effect of the pandemic still being evident.”

Mr Roberts said there would be a return to a live adjudication performances for the scholarship finalists after the two previous years when the scholarship had not been held due to the pandemic.

The adjudication concert will be held at Mount Gambier’s Wehl Street Community Theatre on Wednesday, June 15 with tickets available at the door.

Each finalist will perform two pieces of their selection in front of a live audience and a panel of music icons including James Morrison, Megan Washington, John Foreman and Darren Percival – the three latter being previous GIJ scholarship recipients and finalists.

The concert will feature the following finalists: Oscar Bruten (Tenor Sax), Cameron Fermoyle (Drums), Holly Forster (Alto Sax and Voice), Abimif Oluwa Onamade (Drums), Thien Pham (Trumpet/Flugelhorn) and Christopher Rozakeas (Trombone) along with vocalists Emma Simpson – Smith, Kaitlyn Chester, Grace Mensforth, Cecilia Dewar and Olivia Dacal.

“This will be a great concert showcasing young Australian musicians,” Mr Roberts said.

“In an amazing achievement, West Australian Holly Forster has qualified for both scholarships, a feat which has not been achieved since 2009 when Sarah McKenzie first competed. Sarah is now a highly acclaimed jazz pianist, singer and composer.”

The recipients of both scholarships will be announced at the GIJ Improvised 2022 gala concert on Thursday, June 16 at the Sir Robert Helpmann Theatre, featuring James Morrison and the GIJ Alumni Big Band including some of Australia’s most loved performers.

“These GIJ scholarships can provide a gateway for a young person to realise their jazz career ambitions as have many who have been recipients and finalists previously. You only have to see the line up in the GIJ Alumni Big Band to appreciate the scholarships far reach. We cannot wait to see who will be the recipients in 2022,” Mr Roberts said.

The James Morrison Jazz Scholarship, now in its 33rd year, provides $10,000 cash award to the successful artist to assist in the development of their musical career. It is sponsored by Melbourne-based Andrea Evans and family, recognising the late Ron Evans’ love of jazz and desire to encourage and foster musical talent.

The GIJ Vocal Scholarship, sponsored by Benara Pastoral, identifies, recognises and rewards musical excellence providing $10,000 cash award to support personal development for the successful recipient.

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