The Wine and Jazz Festival has provided a venue for great West Virginia University musicians since its inception 20 years ago. What you might not know is that, for more than half of that time, the festival has been providing important support to WVU.
The festival’s two endowed scholarships have been helping West Virginia students pursue degrees in jazz studies since 1998. It also funds a graduate assistantship to oversee a “Music in the Schools” program.
“The ‘Music in the Schools’ program is a direct outreach of the festival’s mission to support jazz and music education in West Virginia,” said Keith Jackson, who serves both as director of WVU’s School of Music and president of the Wine and Jazz Festival’s board.
“Music in the Schools” funds jazz performances in K-12 schools by ensembles from WVU.
“We present dozens of performances throughout the state, reaching students in every corner of West Virginia,” Jackson said.
The current recipient of the festival’s undergraduate scholarship, bassist Mac Gage from Capon Bridge, W.Va., has been active in “Music in the Schools” for the past three years.
“I think I’ve been on more ‘Music in the Schools’ trips than any other student,” Gage said. “Sometimes we work with band or music classes, and sometimes we play for assemblies through the day.”
The program is coordinated by a graduate student, Alex Heflin, whose assistantship is also funded by the Wine and Jazz Festival. Heflin, who plays mandolin, is organizing the program’s seven-county tour for this year. His predecessor in the assistantship, guitarist John Posey, graduated last May and has stepped in as an instructor in WVU’s jazz program.
The festival supports instrument repair at for K-12 music programs in Mon County, and it provides opportunities for students in the University’s music honoraries, Kappa Kappa Psi and Phi Mu Alpha. It offers scholarships to help younger kids participate in WVU’s Community Music Program.
And, of course, they give WVU musicians – faculty, student and alumni – a stage to share the music they love with eager audiences. This year’s Wine and Jazz Festival will be held at Camp Muffly in Morgantown Saturday, Sept. 19, and Sunday, Sept. 20.
The festival actually opens with the WVU Jazz Ensemble at 11 a.m. Saturday. The Mardi Gras Band, a collaboration of WVU students, faculty, and alumni, plays at 3:30 p.m. And the James Miltenberger Jazz Quintet, led by the legendary WVU piano professor, plays at 2 p.m. Sunday.
“The College of Creative Arts is so appreciative of our long relationship with the Wine and Jazz Festival,” said Dean Paul Kreider. “They’ve created great opportunities for our students, and they’ve helped us share the love of music with schools throughout the state. It’s a great partnership.”
CONTACT: David Welsh, WVU College of Creative Arts
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