On Saturday, May 6, 2023, the Aronoff Center for the Performing Arts came alive with the soulful melodies of jazz, as the Cincinnati Public Schools International Jazz Festival, presented by Activities Beyond the Classroom (ABC), unfolded its magical celebration of music, friendship, and cultural exchange. 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.
The festival commenced with 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. Under the guidance of these professionals, the young artists delved into the intricacies of jazz improvisation, rhythm, and harmony, discovering new dimensions of their craft.
As the sun began to set, the anticipation in the air was palpable as the students prepared to take the main stage of the Aronoff Center. Performing 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 evening was a harmonious blend of individual performances and collaborative ensembles, where the universal language of music resonated with every beat.
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 Kearney just as the evening performance began, setting the tone for an unforgettable night.
“I just want to offer my congratulations to [ABC and its partners], along with Dr. Isidor Rudnick, for your extraordinary services, energy and efforts in producing the 3rd Annual ABC/CPS International Jazz Festival,” shared ABC Board President, Dick Friedman. “The community buzz that evening and beyond has been wonderful, including wonderfully supportive comments onstage and offstage from CPS Board Chair, Ben Lindy and Vice Mayor Jan-Michele Kearny, along with Carolyn Jones, CPS Board member.”
The Cincinnati Public Schools International Jazz Festival 2023 was a true testament to the vision of CPS Fine Arts Director Dr. Isidore Rudnick, as well as an ode to the boundless potential of jazz music and friendship in uniting communities across the globe. Dr. Rudnick’s unwavering dedication to the talented students, coupled with his extensive connections in the jazz world, have transformed this program into an extraordinary event.
Through workshops, performances, and artistic collaborations, the young musicians from Cincinnati and Barcelona exemplified the power of jazz in fostering connections and friendships beyond borders. As the echoes of their melodious performances lingered in the air, they left a mark on the hearts of all who witnessed this extraordinary celebration of harmony and cooperation.