A Night to Remember: Jazz Fest 2024

All photos taken by Melissa Kyrlach

On the 9th of March, a remarkable event unfolded at the Aronoff Center for the Arts as more than 125 students from Cincinnati Public Schools took center stage at the International Jazz Festival. Representing over 20 schools within the CPS district, these talented young musicians were joined by acclaimed Japanese Violinist, Tomoko Omura, and numerous professional musicians from the Cincinnati region. The festival, a full-day celebration of jazz, offered enriching experiences to students and their families at absolutely no cost.

The festivities kicked off with a vibrant array of workshops and jam sessions, led by seasoned jazz artists. In these intimate settings, students had the invaluable opportunity to hone their musical skills under expert guidance. Exploring the nuances of jazz improvisation, rhythm, and harmony, they discovered new depths to their craft.

As evening descended, the students graced the main stage of the Aronoff Center, delivering a spellbinding performance alongside seasoned professionals. Sally Grimes (Executive Director at ABC), Eve Bolton (CPS Board President), and Jan-Michele Lemon Kearney (Vice-Mayor of Cincinnati) extended warm welcomes to the sizable audience, acknowledging the students’ achievements and underscoring the significance of the event for both the students and the city.

Before an enraptured audience of over 800 attendees, the young musicians mesmerized with their extraordinary talent, leaving spectators awestruck by their devotion to jazz. The evening unfolded as a harmonious fusion of solo showcases and collaborative ensembles, resonating with the universal language of music.

In instances where students faced obstacles in obtaining formal attire for the concert, ABC stepped in, providing suit jackets, shoes, ties, and other necessary wardrobe items, ensuring every student could shine on stage.

Global Artistic Contribution

In addition to highlighting musical prowess, the festival also illuminated the realm of visual art. Partnering with the International Sister Cities Association, ABC orchestrated a poignant visual art display in the lobby of the Aronoff Center. Showcasing extraordinary artworks crafted by students from Cincinnati Public Schools alongside their counterparts from Germany, China, Japan, Ukraine, and Zimbabwe, the exhibit served as a testament to friendship and artistic collaboration. Through this innovative exchange, the installation resonated with the spirit of unity and creativity.

A Remarkable Event for Everyone

The 2024 Cincinnati Public Schools International Jazz Festival stands as a testament to the visionary leadership of CPS Fine Arts Director Dr. Isidore Rudnick and a celebration of jazz music’s limitless capacity to forge bonds among communities worldwide. Dr. Rudnick’s steadfast commitment to nurturing the talents of students, combined with his extensive network within the jazz realm, has elevated this program into a remarkable showcase.

Through workshops, performances, and collaborative endeavors, the young musicians from Cincinnati embodied the transformative essence of jazz, transcending borders to cultivate connections and friendships. As the reverberations of their soulful performances lingered, they etched a lasting impression on the hearts of all who experienced this remarkable testament to harmony and unity.

The Jazz Festival, a free community event, was made achievable through the generous backing of The National Endowment for the Arts and their Challenge America grant, as well as support from the Ohio Arts Council (OAC), a state agency committed to funding and enhancing quality arts experiences to enrich Ohio communities culturally, educationally, and economically through public investments. In addition, ABC extends heartfelt gratitude to Flip & Shelia Cohen for their unwavering support of this event, since its inception.