55th Annual Clark College Jazz Festival

December 20, 2016
Media Contact:  Shelly Williams, 360-992-2662 or sjwilliams@clark.edu


Features over sixty area schools and is staffed by Clark College Band students


VANCOUVER, WA -- The 55th Annual Clark College Jazz Festival presents three full days of exhilarating big band jazz on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, January 26-28, 2017 in the Gaiser Student Center, 1933 Fort Vancouver Way, Vancouver WA 98663. Admission is $5 per day.  Clark College students and children under 12 accompanied by an adult will be admitted free of charge.

“It’s really inspiring to see the level of playing coming through the middle and high school programs in the Northwest,” says Clark Festival Director Richard Inouye.  “Jazz really is one of our American inventions and I’m happy to see that it continues to appeal to young musicians.” 

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 A through AAAA 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 2017 festival will start on Thursday with middle schools from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. with middle school finals starting at 4:00 p.m.  On Friday and Saturday, competition will begin at 8:00 a.m. with the A and AA division jazz bands performing on Friday and AAA and AAAA jazz bands taking the stage on Saturday.  Finals competitions will begin at 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday evenings ending with the trophies presentation.

The Clark College Jazz Ensemble, under the direction of Festival Director Rich Inouye, will perform at 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, noon and 8:30 p.m. on Friday, and at 12:20 p.m. on Saturday.  The 2016 Sweepstakes Band, Battle Ground High School Advanced Band from Battle Ground, Washington, under the direction of Greg McKelvey, will hold the spotlight on Saturday evening at 8:30 p.m. 

“A huge component of the success of our festival is that students run it,” says Shelly Williams, the Clark Music Department Program Coordinator, who coordinates the festival with Inouye. “Over 75 Clark music students volunteer countless hours to set up, tear down, and work the festival.”

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/music-concerts

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 H.S. and Evergreen H.S 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 H.S. 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. Dale’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. Chuck’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 on board 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 Chuck were also presented Legacy Sweepstakes Awards for their historic contributions to the festival. 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. In 2013, the festival went international, welcoming two bands from Tsawwassen, British Columbia!

About the Clark College Music Department

Clark College offers a two-year college program of 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.