Melbourne International Jazz Festival BY Jayden Collins
28 May – 7 June 2015
The Melbourne International Jazz Festival was first held in 1998 and has been presented at several different times of year. It now occurs over the first two weekends of June, including the Queens Birthday long weekend. The Festival takes place in concert halls, arts venues, jazz clubs and throughout the streets of Melbourne as the city comes alive with the spirit of jazz.
Now in its 17th year, each 10-day festival typically sees more than 40,000 people attend over 100 public events, with over 500 international and Australian artists performing and collaborating at over 20 of Melbourne’s iconic venues.
In addition to performances by headline Australian and international artists, the wide-ranging programme also includes free concerts, family events, late night art parties, artist workshops, film screenings, in-conversations, club sessions and more.
Each festival programme aims to appeal to young and old, to enthusiasts and the uninitiated, and to encourage as many people as possible to experience the very personal impact that jazz can have on its listener.
Adrian Jackson was Artistic Director from 1998-2004, after which Albert Dadon became Chairman. Dadon invited the director of Italy’s Umbria Jazz Festival, Carlo Pagnotta, to be guest Artistic Director in 2005. The festival was not held in 2006 due to the Commonwealth Games, and Dadon was Artistic Director for the 2007-2008 Festivals. He was succeeded in 2009 by Michael Tortoni, who continues to hold the position. Sophie Brous was Program Director for the 2009-2011 Festivals.
The largest festival of its kind in Australia, the 2014 Melbourne International Jazz Festival brought together over 300 artists from Australia, USA, UK Italy, Israel, Spain, Finland, Denmark, Sweden, Greece and New Zealand in a wide-ranging programme acclaimed by critics and audience alike. Over 10 days, nearly 40,000 people came together to experience jazz in recital halls, clubs and unexpected spaces across the city.
With a post-Festival broadcast audience of 2.5+ million, the introduction of “Jazz Out West”, a new initiative taking free, accessible events to residents and business in Footscray, pathways for the next generation were created through In-Conversations, artist workshops and performance opportunities, and multiple avenues for community engagement were provided through free events, programming breadth and a meaningful volunteer program of 200 volunteers.