WINCHESTER — Shenandoah Conservatory is hosting the Essentially Ellington Regional High School Jazz Band Festival in partnership with Jazz at Lincoln Center on Saturday in Ohrstrom-Bryant Theatre on the main campus of Shenandoah University.

The daylong festival features two opportunities for the public to attend free performances:

"A Special Tribute Performance: Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra" at 4:30 p.m.  and The U.S. Navy Commodores at 7:30 p.m.

Seating for the free concerts is available on a first-come, first-served basis.

"A Special Tribute Performance: Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra," is a tribute to the late bassist John Kirby, a Winchester native. The concert features Kenny Rittenhouse on trumpet, Scott Silbert on clarinet, Charlie Young on alto saxophone, Matthew Niess on trombone, Robert Larson on piano, Amy Shook on bass and Ken Kimmery on drums.

During the festival, more than 250 students from 10 high school jazz bands from Virginia and West Virginia will compete for best section and best soloists awards. One band will perform as part of the U.S. Navy Commodores concert. Musicians from the U.S. Navy Commodores along with Jazz at Lincoln Center clinicians/festival judges Tatum Greenblatt and

Julius Tolentino will provide clinics during the festival. Greenblatt and Tolentino are renowned jazz legends. Band directors as well as members of the Winchester community will also participate in a round-table discussion with the clinicians.

"This is a rare treat for students and directors to meet and work with educators and musicians sent to our area from Jazz at Lincoln Center," said Niess. "Few institutions are selected to host this event, so we are very fortunate to be chosen. The performance slots filled up quickly once the word got out, and we look forward to an exciting day filled with performances, clinics and a dedicated performance featuring the music of Winchester's own John Kirby."

Through its annual Essentially Ellington program, Jazz at Lincoln Center (JALC) co-produces noncompetitive education-based festivals designed to offer high school jazz bands the opportunity to perform the music of Duke Ellington and other seminal big band composers and arrangers. Participating bands receive professional feedback from JALC clinicians and other prestigious jazz professionals.

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