Clark College’s Gaiser Hall roared with jazz and the din of hundreds of student musicians, representing more than 40 schools around Oregon and Washington, for the 57th annual Clark College Jazz Festival.
Doug Harris, the new director of bands at the college following Richard Inouye’s retirement last spring, said that since he’s moved here in August, people he meets keep checking with him to make sure there would be a festival this year.
“It’s part of the fabric of the community,” he said.
The festival began in 1962, according to organizers, when Hudson’s Bay High School’s band director organized a one-day invitational performance for local high school bands. Vancouver and Evergreen high schools took turns hosting, with the early years’ trophies made from miscellaneous hardware and car parts.
Now, the college expected to see more than 1,200 student jazz players, with more than 3,000 guests. Volunteers put in about 800 hours of work to make it all happen.
Harris’ acquaintances’ concerns, then, might make some sense.
“As far as I’m concerned,” it’s been a glorious success,” Harris said Saturday afternoon, shortly after the Clark College Jazz Band performed it’s last set of the three-day event.
As the newest feature of this year’s festival, it was relieving, professionally, to see the band perform as well as it did, he said. But on the practical side, it’s also a good pitch.
Beyond being a fun community event, he said, the festival is also a good means to recruit college-bound high school musicians.
“It’s such a great introduction to the music education community,” he said. “For me, that’s been one of the best things.”