Cotter Jazz Festival showcases local students, guest artists | Arts & Entertainment

Cotter Jazz Festival showcases local students, guest artists | Arts & Entertainment

The 2024 Jazz Festival Presented by Hurry Back Productions has concluded with resounding success, leaving attendees mesmerized by a weekend filled with captivating performances and enriching masterclasses. The festival, held April 6 and 7, showcased incredible talent from 11 middle school and high school jazz bands.

Saturday brought bands from across Minnesota to Cotter’s St. Cecilia Theater and MCA Academy Theater to play for clinicians and receive one-on-one clinic time. Guest clinicians Dr. Rich MacDonald, Dr. Jeff Erickson, Dr. Aaron Lohmeyer, and Mr. John Greene listened to each group and provided valuable feedback as students continued to learn and grow.

In the middle of the day, the performances paused so that students could attend individual masterclasses with the featured artists of the 2024 festival: St. Paul Peterson with assistance from Dr. Rich MacDonald, Dr. Scott Agster, Riley Helgeson, and Peter Vircks. Students had a chance to learn from these pros in small group settings and ask questions about life in the music industry. 

Saturday evening saw the St. Cecilia Theatre pulsating with energy as St. Paul Peterson and the Minneapolis Funk All-Stars took the stage. The concert was an electrifying fusion of funk-infused melodies and infectious rhythms, leaving the audience spellbound and craving for more. The balcony was filled with students from the daytime bands, who danced as much as the local crowd on the ground floor. 

The excitement continued into Sunday with the annual Cotter Jazz Concert, featuring Paul Peterson alongside esteemed horn players Dr. Scott Agster, Riley Helgeson, and Peter Vircks. The collaboration between Cotter’s jazz bands and these exceptional guest artists was nothing short of extraordinary, providing a unique and enriching experience for students and the community alike.

Cotter’s High School Band Director Andy Meurer said, “This is my favorite event that happens at Cotter. Not only is it incredible for our students to experience this, but bringing bands from around the state to share in the learning makes it even better. Working with even one of these clinicians would have been life-changing for our kids, but their opportunity to get feedback from John, Rich, Aaron, Jeff, Scott, Peter, Riley, and Paul was just utterly unbelievable. Our kids are still talking about what they learned, and we hear them in the practice rooms before and after school putting it into practice already. It’s infectious to work with players like this, and it’s going to make a serious impact on our students and program for a long time to come.”

The 2024 Jazz Festival stands as a testament to the power of music to unite and inspire. As the curtains close on another remarkable edition, Cotter Schools extends heartfelt gratitude to Hurry Back Productions and everyone who contributed to making this event a truly unforgettable celebration of jazz music.

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