2017 Generations in Jazz hailed a huge success

Amelia Evans Landscape shot.jpg

Some of the world’s most high-profile jazz musicians have shared the limelight with the 68-piece Adelaide Symphony Orchestra (ASO) in one of the most spectacular outdoor jazz weekends Australia has staged. 

Saturday night’s sellout Generations in Jazz Gala Concert featured US jazz sensations Wycliffe Gordon and Gordon Goodwin, Romanian-born jazz pianist Marian Petrescu, New York rising star vocalist Jazzmeia Horn and a host of Australian music icons including the legendary James Morrison. 

The 6000-strong audience was seated inside the largest big top tent that South Australia has ever seen, with the gigantic 90m x 45-metre structure located in a paddock on the outskirts of Mount Gambier.

Guest vocalist Darren Percival performed at all four public concerts at GIJ. “The atmosphere inside the tent was electric - we lifted the roof off,” he said. 

ASO conductor Ben Northey, described the experience as “unbelievable”: “It was an unforgettable night, and it was a very inspiring thing to be a part of; we’re all musicians and we all speak a common language and being able to share it with so many young people is what makes it so special,” he said.

A school band competition lies at the heart of GIJ, with 4700 student musicians from around Australia performing more than 800 musical pieces throughout the weekend. 

The number of schools participating in 2017 has smashed all previous records; 305 stage bands and vocal ensembles representing 125 schools (48 from South Australia) were bussed into Mount Gambier from every state and territory.

“Every year it just gets better and better, and this year was just incredible,” declared James Morrison, who is also the GIJ chairman and artistic director.

Melbourne’s Blackburn High School was announced as the division one winner of the City of Mount Gambier Stage Band Awards ahead of Adelaide’s Marryatville High School. Melbourne’s Wesley College (Glen Waverley) claimed the division two section one category and Scotch College (VIC) took out section two of that division. Adelaide’s St Peters Girls School and Immanuel College had the weekend’s top vocal ensembles.

Two highly coveted scholarships designed to assist in career development were also handed out at GIJ. 

Alto saxophone player Flora Carbo won the $10,000 James Morrison Scholarship for instrumentalists, which was awarded by Andrea Evans on behalf of the Evans family. 

The Melbourne-raised 19-year-old is currently in her second year studying a Bachelor of Music at the James Morrison Academy of Music, Mount Gambier. 

Monash University music student Amelia Evans secured the $5000 Vocal Scholarship sponsored by The Border Watch Newspaper in her second year as a finalist.

The city famous for its Blue Lake cemented its reputation as the supreme host of the nation’s largest school jazz competition. 

Special guests at this year’s event included transport magnate Lindsay Fox and his wife Paula, Jeff and Felicity Kennett and SA Government Minister Kyam Maher MLC. 

Host venue The Barn served nearly 19,000 meals over the weekend, while all accommodation within a 100km radius of Mount Gambier was fully booked, with many of the participating schools billeted in halls, clubrooms and private homes across the region.

Amelia Evans