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ND celebrates annual jazz festival

| Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Jazz bands from colleges and universities across the country visited Notre Dame this weekend to play at the University’s 57th annual Collegiate Jazz Festival.

The festival, which has become less competitive and more educational since it began in 1958, has always been entirely student-run, assistant director of bands and director of jazz studies Larry Dwyer said.

“Primarily, most of the major decisions are made by the students who run the festival,” Dwyer said. “And that does make a difference. Overall, it makes the Festival a lot more fun.

“I’ve had some of the judges talk to me at times, because some of them have been back to Notre Dame multiple times and say, ‘We like to come back here just because of the spirit and vibe at your festival. Sometimes we go to other college festivals, and it’s all run by the adults … and it’s just not the same.’ So that’s one of the other elements that makes this a really good festival.”

Festival committee member and junior Mia McReynolds said the students involved in planning the jazz festival had been working since this summer to ensure the event ran smoothly. Planning the festival was a great opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes look at Notre Dame’s art scene, especially because the festival has so much history, she said.

“It’s got a lot of history, but students aren’t very aware of it,” McReynolds said. “It’s a great chance for South Bend community members and Notre Dame students to stop by to hear different styles of jazz and see a different side of this school.

“To me, helping out with the festival was a chance to take a break from my normal studies and get involved with the music scene.”

McReynolds said the show ran smoothly, bringing together both Notre Dame students and South Bend residents in the audience.

“The audience is historically mostly South Bend residents with a few students; this year was the same,” she said. “There were a lot more people in attendance the first night because of the Judges’ Jam. The five judges [for the festival] went onstage to play together, and it was awesome to see the pros perform.”

Sophomore and festival committee member Holly Backstrom said the festival was “a big success,” and the audience response was positive, even though attendance from Notre Dame students was lower than she hoped it would be.

“I do wish we could draw a larger amount of student interest and attendance, but with so much going on this past weekend, from Bengal Bouts to hockey, we had to expect that the numbers would be on the lower side since there were so many events to choose from on campus,” Backstrom said. “That being said, I still saw a good number of students in the audience and have gotten a lot of positive feedback from those I’ve spoken to about the festival.”

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