Tuesday, August 29, 2017

"One of the Greatest Musical Experiences of My Life" - International Jazz Meeting in Siena

Drummer Liam Dixon, a student at Palo Alto College, reports on his week in Italy at the exciting international jazz meeting of the International Association of Schools of Jazz (IASJ), the capstone event of the A-JAM program below... 
"The 2017 IASJ jazz meeting in Siena, Italy has got to be one of the greatest musical experiences of my life. Not only did I get to travel to Europe without any expenses, I was able to make music with some of the greatest musicians I have ever met, all while learning from some of the greatest jazz educators from schools across the world. 
A-JAM student Liam Dixon in Siena, Italy (2017)
When we arrived at our destination, my teacher Joe and I were both in awe of how beautiful Siena was. It was truly amazing. On our first night, after we checked into our hotel, we freshened up and went down to the Piazza del Campo to see the first performance from the Siena University jazz band, featuring the incredible Dave Liebman. And before seeing the performance, we met some fellow IASJ students from Austria, Andreas Liebminger and Win Pongsakorn. We immediately became friends and remained friends throughout the duration of the trip.
 Liam's group, ready to perform
The next day we all met together and had our auditions, which was very laid back, the students were formed into random combos and played songs from the IASJ top 10 list. After our auditions we were selected again at random to form our groups that we would be playing in for the concert, and later that same night we had our first rehearsal. The rest of the week we would have masterclasses and lectures in the morning, which were all incredible and full of great information, followed by a short break and then rehearsal. After our rehearsals we would have lunch and then free time till we met at the jam sessions which were every night at a different beautiful venue. This had to be my favorite part of the experience. During the jam sessions we got to socialize with all the other musicians and teachers over delicious food and drinks all while jamming with other students and teachers.
The night of the concert was very similar to the jam sessions, we were all enjoying ourselves while listening to the hard work that the other students put into their music. This is where I had my life changing experience. Watching all the other groups play their original pieces and seeing how advanced they are at their instrument and craft is truly both eye-opening and motivating. After the concert I made a list of all the things I need to work on. And I believe I wouldn't have done that without this trip.

Liam Dixon (with arm around teacher Jeff Siegal) and his combo
Words cannot describe how truly happy and inspired I was during this whole experience. Meeting some of the greatest people who share the same love for music that I do and getting the opportunity to better myself at my craft all while traveling to new places and enjoying myself is a truly priceless experience. I want to give a huge thank you to Katchie Cartwright, Joe Caploe and everyone involved with A-JAM and IASJ."
Liam's sentiments were echoed by his teacher, drummer Joe Caploe, who describes the event below. 

IASJ drummers (Liam in the center, Joe Caploe far right)
"The conference began on July 8 with an evening concert with the Siena Jazz University Orchestra featuring Dave Liebman at the beautiful Piazza del Campo. The Siena Jazz University Orchestra sounded great and so did Dave Liebman. It was a nice way to begin the conference in a stunning setting. We registered on July 9 in the morning and went to a 10am meeting followed by auditions for for the student combos. Later that afternoon combo rehearsals began from 3-5:30 and went every day to prepare concerts that took place on Thursday and Friday evening.
Every day was started with a meeting, then an hour of masterclasses, lunch combo rehearsals and evening jam sessions. On Tuesday evening there was a teachers concert which was a great opportunity for those of us who hadnʼt meet to play music and get to know each. All of the students and teachers were outstanding musicians and the vibe was very friendly and productive. The combo rehearsals were collaborative and I had the pleasure of coaching a combo with Jean-Charles Richard a sax player from Paris who teaches at Pole Superieur Paris. Our combo played three original compositions by the students and one each by Jean-Charles and I. In the evening there were jam sessions and Liam sat in every night, I played a little myself. The sessions were really good and in different gorgeous outdoor locations in various contradas in Siena. Couldnʼt have asked for more beautiful settings to play music. The weather was perfect and the level of playing of all was outstanding.
Liam and his combo performing

The Thursday and Friday student evening concerts were inspiring! All the students made incredible growth during the week and worked very hard to prepare for the concerts. I was very proud of Liamʼs performance and Jeff Siegal(drummer) who was a coach for Liamʼs combo said he made great improvement during the rehearsals. The material Liamʼs combo played was challenging and he was up for it and played very well. He told me that me was very inspired by the whole experience and wants to work real hard to keep the momentum going from the conference, I feel the same way. Siena is a gorgeous and stunning city. I canʼt imagine nicer location for the conference. It was an honor to participate and represent Northwest Vista College at the conference. We both made many new friends, made great music and learned from all the participants. "
It could be you next year! Auditions for the A-JAM program are held the week of Thanksgiving. Stay tuned to this blog and our Facebook. Contact Dr. Katchie Cartwright via email or phone 210-486-4828 for more information.

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