Cincinnati Public Schools International Jazz Festival Returns on March 9, 2024 at the Aronoff Center for the Arts

Jazz-loving Cincinnatians are invited to the 4th International Jazz Festival, hosted by Activities Beyond the Classroom (ABC).

The festival will feature over 120 student musicians from the Cincinnati Public Schools Jazz Academy performing with jazz violinist Tomoko Omura from Japan. Ms. Omura was named the #1 rising jazz violin star by Downbeat Magazine and currently performs all over the world.

The festival will feature artwork from CPS students as well as students from around the world, thanks to the contribution of the Cincinnati Sister Cities! The art pieces will be created around a theme, and they can be viewed in the lobby of the Aronoff throughout the evening.

Date: Saturday, March 9th

Time: 7:00 PM

Location: The Aronoff Center for the Arts (650 Walnut Street)

Cost: FREE (tickets not required)

Special performances by:

The CPS Jazz Academy Orchestras, under the direction of Dr. Isidore Rudnick & Myles Twitty

Previous Jazz Festivals

Inaugural Jazz Festival: October 2019

On October 5, 2019, over 250 students who live in the Cincinnati area gathered at the Aronoff Center to participate in the first ever CPS International Jazz Festival. 

During this all day event, the student-musicians performed for professional jazz musicians, and were able to get constructive feedback from the professionals to help them master their craft. In addition, the students were able to sit in more intimate master-classes, where the accomplished jazz musicians gave lessons, and shared their experiences in the world of jazz.

The evening featured performances from an ensemble of professional musicians as well as larger student groups.  The ensemble included the award-winning Chilean saxophonist Melissa Aldana, Todor Bakardzhiev (Bulgaria), pianist Shamie Royston (New York City), bassist Chris Berg (Dayton, Ohio), and drummer Art Gore (Cincinnati).  The student groups featured included the Pipkov National Music School Jazz Ensemble (Bulgaria), the Greater Cincinnati Youth Jazz Collaborative, and the CPS Elementary Jazz Academy Orchestra.   

Returning From The COVID Pandemic: Jazz Festival 2022

The International Jazz Festival returned May 7, 2022. Internationally famous jazz saxophonist Joan Chamorro from Barcelona Spain joined 107 students and 11 professional jazz musicians from the Cincinnati region for a full day of workshops, masterclasses, and performance opportunities. This was capped off by an evening performance on the main stage at the Aronoff Center. 

Because cost of tickets was a barrier to access for families at the previous Jazz Festival, ABC waived ticket fees and allowed all members of the public free access to the show. By the time the instruments started playing, 1200 seats were full in the Aronoff Center (about double the attendance from the first Jazz Festival). We received reports that indicated the second Jazz Festival increased impact on the Cincinnati community by 153%. 

CPS Jazz Academy Performs in Barcelona, September 2022

From September 1-8, 2022, Activities Beyond the Classroom (ABC) partnered with the Kennedy Heights Arts Center and Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) to take eleven students in the CPS Jazz Academy to Barcelona, Spain. In addition to several parent chaperones, the CPS Middle School Jazz Combo were accompanied on their trip by Dr. Isidore Rudnick, the Fine Arts Curiculum Manager and Director of the CPS Jazz Academy, as well as ABC’s Executive Director, Sally Grimes.

The students performed at the Jazzing Festival de Sant Andreu on Sunday, September 4th to a packed audience of jazz enthusiasts. The students also attended intimate workshops led by professional musicians throughout the weekend, gaining valuable insight to their craft. Throughout the weekend, the CPS students had the opportunity to socialize and perform with student musicians from Barcelona and the Canary Islands, forming new friendships that cross international boundaries.

ABC and Cincinnati Public Schools were thrilled to return the favor, and welcome these students from Barcelona and Joan Chamorro to Cincinnati for the 2023 CPS International Jazz Festival! Joan and his students showed tremendous hospitality and kindness to the CPS students throughout their visit to Barcelona, and ABC did our best to return the favor when the Joan and his students visited Cincinnati in May 2023!

International Jazz Cooperation Day in Cincinnati: Jazz Festival 2023

On Saturday, May 6, 2023, the 3rd CPS International Jazz Festival was held at the Aronoff Center for the Arts. Bringing together 110 talented students from Cincinnati Public Schools and eight budding musicians from Barcelona’s Sant Andreu Jazz Band, this year’s festival was a testament to the power of jazz in uniting hearts across continents. These students from Barcelona were accompanied by acclaimed jazz musician and educator, Joan Chamorro.

In the daytime, students participated in a bustling series of workshops and jam sessions led by seasoned jazz musicians. These workshops provided the students with invaluable opportunities to refine their musical talents in a much smaller setting.

In the evening, students performed for an enraptured audience of approximately 600, the young musicians showcased their incredible skills, leaving the crowd in awe of their passion and dedication to jazz. 

The festival not only showcased musical talents but also brought the world of visual art to the spotlight. ABC collaborated with the International Sister Cities Association to curate a soulful visual art installation in the Aronoff Center’s lobby. The exhibit featured remarkable artworks created by students from Cincinnati Public Schools, as well as their peers from China, Japan, Ukraine, and Zimbabwe. Through this creative exchange, the installation celebrated the theme of friendship and artistic cooperation, further enhancing the festival’s message of unity.

The significance of this festival reached new heights when the Mayoral Office of Cincinnati bestowed a proclamation, designating May 6, 2023, as “International Jazz Cooperation Day” in Cincinnati. This declaration served as a testament to the festival’s impact in fostering cultural understanding and international goodwill through the language of jazz. The proclamation was presented by Assistant Mayor Jan-Michele Lemon Kearney just as the evening performance began, setting the tone for an unforgettable night.