Washington, D.C. will celebrate the fifth annual International Jazz Day with a program of jazz performances and educational initiatives April 30 as this year’s Global Host City. Georgetown University also plans to host a series of events in order to commemorate the day.
Officially declared a holiday by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization in 2011, International Jazz Day is a culmination of April’s Jazz Appreciation Month, which seeks to promote intercultural dialogue about jazz’s role in stimulating world peace.
Programming in the District will feature a wide array of entertainment, including a concert from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on DuPont Circle, a panel discussion about women and jazz at the National Museum of Women in the Arts and posthumous tributes to jazz legend and D.C. native Duke Ellington across the city.
The White House will further host the International Jazz Day All-Star Global Concert on April 29 spotlighting artists such as Herbie Hancock, Esperanza Spalding, Aretha Franklin and Sting.
Though International Jazz Day is recognized in 190 countries around the world, UNESCO’s Director General Irina Bokova said in a statement that UNESCO selected D.C. as the Global Host City due to jazz’s distinct American heritage.
“Jazz was born in the U.S. and traveled the world as a music of tolerance, freedom and human dignity. This is why UNESCO created International Jazz Day, and we are extremely pleased that in 2016 Washington, D.C. has been designated the host city for this global celebration,” Bokova said. “This event reminds us Jazz is more than music: it is a universal message of peace with rhythm and meaning.”
Georgetown University will celebrate with its own Jazzfest from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. on April 30 on Copley Lawn with performances by the Annandale Jazz Ambassadors from Virginia Music Adventures, David Kline Band, Afro Bop Alliance and Georgetown University Jazz Ensemble.
GU Jazz Ensemble instructor and music professor Aaron Broadus lauded the burgeoning jazz community presence on campus.
“It is a small culture, but it is a very good culture. I am fortunate that I have a very dedicated group of young musicians that really enjoy the music and spend a lot of time during the semester working with different styles of music that I give them,” Broadus said.
GU Jazz Ensemble musician Andrew Kirkpatrick (COL ’18) agreed, although the university’s jazz community is rather understated, he still finds a vibrant base of devotees on campus.
“Jazz band exists, and we are very good. There is not really a jazz culture here, pretty much the people in jazz band are the ones who do it, but it is really fun to listen to, and it is enjoyable,” Kirkpatrick said. “Generally I am excited about Saturday. I love jazz, and I think it is one of the coolest things ever. I love playing, so I am excited that there is a lot of jazz stuff going on.”
Dipali Gupta (MSB ’17) commended Georgetown’s commitment to celebrating jazz as an art form.
“I think music at Georgetown is great,” Gupta said. “It’s one of the things that is underplayed here. It is one of the hidden treasures we have at Georgetown for sure.”
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