Greetings and welcome to the 54th annual Reno Jazz Festival!
The 2015 Reno Jazz Festival promises to once again bring together some of the finest jazz students, educators and professional musicians in the United States. Since its first year in 1963 (featuring five school groups), the festival has grown considerably in size and stature, becoming one of the finest events of its kind in the world.
It has been an honor and privilege to serve as director of the festival since 1991, so it is indeed bittersweet to let you know I recently have stepped down from that post. But what an amazing 25 years it has been! I am very proud of the fact the festival has grown and thrived during that time, providing roughly 200,000 students with an intense, educational and, in some cases, life-changing experience. Since 1995, we have hosted an average of more than 320 school groups, 9,000 participants, and 50-60 adjudicators, clinicians and performers per year.
Getting to meet (and sometimes perform with) guest artists such as Bobby Hutcherson, Chick Corea, Michael Brecker, Geri Allen, Roy Haynes, Joshua Redman, Ingrid Jensen, Joe Lovano, Maria Schneider, Nicholas Payton, Fred Hersch and so many others has been nothing short of incredible. And what a joy it has been to hang out with some of the finest adjudicator/clinician/performers in the United States, many who continue to come back to work for us year after year. I feel very fortunate to be able to call them friends.
Tireless music educators everywhere deserve a special mention here, and we get to see some of the very best of them as participants in our festival. I come from a family of music educators (father, mother, brother, wife, daughter, aunt and others), so I know what the job entails, the effort and commitment required to achieve excellence, and how many long days and nights come with it. That so many of you have chosen to go above and beyond the call of duty each and every year to fundraise and organize a trip to the Reno Jazz Festival is extraordinary. I cannot thank you enough for your loyalty to us and for your commitment to music education in general.
Finally, a large event such as ours requires a team effort, and I want to thank all of the volunteers and other contributors who worked on our behalf over these many years. There are too many to name here, but I would be remiss if I did not mention the efforts of CJ Walters. For 20 years, she served as festival coordinator, and she is largely responsible for its success. Thank you, CJ!
Now, it is my pleasure to hand over the reins to Chris Money. He will serve as both director and coordinator, and with him in charge I have no doubt the Reno Jazz Festival will continue to grow and prosper.
I look forward to seeing you at the festival.
Larry M. Engstrom, Director Emeritus
Reno Jazz Festival
University of Nevada, Reno