57th annual Clark College Jazz Festival set for Jan. 24-26

Festival will feature over 60 area schools and is voluntarily run entirely by Clark College band students

VANCOUVER — Clark College hosts the 57th Annual Clark College Jazz Festival, which will feature three full days of big band jazz on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, January 24-26, 2019 in the Gaiser Center, 1933 Fort Vancouver Way, Vancouver.

Admission is $5 per day.  Clark College students and children under 12 accompanied by an adult will be admitted free of charge.

The trumpet section of the Clark College Jazz Ensemble is shown here. Photo courtesy of Andy Bao, Clark College Independent
The trumpet section of the Clark College Jazz Ensemble is shown here. Photo courtesy of Andy Bao, Clark College Independent
(Andy Bao/The Independent)

Sixty middle and high school jazz ensembles from throughout Washington and Oregon are scheduled to perform in this year’s competition with trophies presented to the top three jazz ensembles for middle schools and Class 1A through 4A division high schools.  Individual outstanding musician awards will also be presented at the end of each division’s preliminary competitions. At the end of Saturday evening, the Dale Beacock Memorial Sweepstakes Award will be presented to one outstanding band selected from the entire festival.

Preliminary competitions for the 2019 festival will start on Thursday with middle schools from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. with middle school finals starting at 4 p.m.  On Friday, competition begins at 10 with 1A and 2A division jazz bands performing. Class 3A and 4A jazz bands take the stage on Saturday beginning at 8:20 a.m.  Finals competitions will begin at 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday evenings ending with the trophies presentation.

The Clark College Jazz Band, under the direction of Festival Director Dr. Doug Harris, will perform at 5 p.m. on Thursday, noon and 8:30 p.m. on Friday, and at 12:20 p.m. on Saturday.  The 2018 Sweepstakes Band, Mead High School (Spokane), under the direction of Rob Lewis, will hold the spotlight on Saturday evening at 8:30 p.m.

For complete information about the Clark College Music Department concerts featuring the orchestra, band, jazz ensemble, and choirs, please see http://www.clark.edu/campus-life/arts-events/music/jazz_festival/index.php.

The History of the Clark College Jazz Festival

The heritage of the Clark College Jazz Festival dates back to 1962 when Hud­son’s Bay H.S. band director, Don Cammack, began organizing a one-day high school stage band invitational for schools from Clark and Skamania coun­ties. Organized by the Vancouver and Evergreen public schools, Fort Vancou­ver and Evergreen high schools took turns hosting the festival each year. Sponsors of the festival included Southwest Washington Music Association and Lower Columbia River Music Educators Association.

In the early years, the trophies were made by middle school band director, Jack Ager, creatively construct­ing musician figures from miscellaneous hardware and car parts! In 1970, Dale Beacock, then the band director at both Fort Vancouver High School and Clark Col­lege, held the invitational “Clark Stage Band Contest” for the first time at its current home, Clark College. This inaugural event hosted 17 high school jazz bands with preliminary competitions held in what was then known as the Gaiser Hall dining area, with finals in the gymnasium.

Beacock’s vision of a competitive jazz showcase for schools throughout Washington and greater Portland pro­moted the growth of the festival and in 1971 the festival grew to 32 bands held over two days on Friday and Saturday. In 1976 the number of participating bands grew to 52, welcoming bands from Oregon and Idaho. In 1985, Chuck Ramsey took over the reigns as festival coordinator successfully organizing the festival for the next 22 years. Ramsey’s achievements bringing consistency in the operations of the festival and increased student involvement set the ground­work for the educational enhancement, leadership, teamwork, and a sense of ownership the Clark student volunteers experience today.

In 2008, Richard Inouye came onboard as festival director. His professional and educational experience has brought a new dynamic to the festival by encouraging a focus on jazz education and utilizing technology to promote community awareness, public support, and streamline festival operations. In 2012, the Clark College Jazz Festival celebrated its 50th Golden Anniversary. Highlights of this milestone included the Clark College Alumni Band directed by Chuck Ramsey which fea­tured Clark band alumni from three generations of Clark band directors. Dale Beacock and Ramsey were also presented Legacy Sweepstakes Awards for their historic contributions to the festival. In 2013, the festival went international welcoming two bands from Tsawwassen, British Columbia.

Today the Annual Clark College Jazz Fes­tival welcomes 60 middle and high school jazz ensembles, over 1,200 student jazz musicians to the campus, and over 3,000 people to the Vancouver com­munity throughout the three-day event.

About the Dr. Doug Harris

Dr. Doug Harris, director of bands, Clark College
Dr. Doug Harris, director of bands, Clark College

Dr. Doug Harris joins the faculty at Clark College after serving as assistant director of bands at Western Kentucky University, and director of bands at Santa Clara University and Southern Utah University. He also enjoyed a long and distinguished career as a high school band director in Florida. Dr. Harris received his Bachelor of Music Education from the University of Florida, his Master of Arts and Doctor of Arts from the University of Northern Colorado. Harris is active clinician and adjudicator in Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Missouri, Colorado, Utah, California and Washington, is a freelance trumpet player and has worked on the brass staff of the Madison Scouts, Sacramento Mandarins, Teal Sound and Suncoast Sound Drum and Bugle Corps. He is active as a composer, arranger and transcriber and is published in the Grand Mesa Music catalog.

About the Clark College Music Department

Clark College offers a two-year Associate in Music Degree (DTA/MRP) that includes music theory/ear training, instrumental and vocal performance training, and ensemble experience. Classes are designed to prepare the music major for advanced studies at a four-year institution while providing the non-major with the skills and background to fully enjoy music as a cultural pursuit. Ensembles on campus include three choral groups, orchestra, concert band, and jazz ensemble. Three tenured and several adjunct faculty, provide professional instruction to the 500-plus students that pass through Beacock Music Hall each year.

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