Grace Mann is a City Music Scholar from Boston, MA, and is currently studying at Berklee College of Music.
Bright and early on Friday, July 31, a group of Boston students attending the Berklee Five-Week Summer Performance Program on City Music Summer Scholarships headed to the Newport Jazz Festival on a little yellow school bus. This amazing opportunity was only possible because of the generosity and kindness of JazzBoston, Natixis Global Asset Management, and Newport Festivals Foundation. The students in attendance were bubbling with excitement to have the chance to see some of their idols perform and could not be more grateful to both organizations for giving them this opportunity.
On our way to the festival we heard from Dr. Leonard Brown, who was invited by JazzBoston to speak to us. Dr. Brown is a professional musician and recently retired as an associate professor at Northeastern University in Boston. Dr. Brown reminded us of the history that surrounds the jazz festival. He discussed how Newport, which began in 1954, witnessed the Civil Rights Movement and mentioned that, “even with existing social pressures, the festival continued.” It was interesting to hear about how the music at Newport withstood the heavy social storms of America since its establishment.
The students started their day at Newport with a presentation from Dr. Wes, founder of the Jazz and Democracy Project, that was arranged by Natixis. He encouraged the students to talk about what’s it’s like when they’re “in the moment” or “in the zone” on stage. One student related his experience on stage to how he feels when he’s driving a car. On the road he feels free, but at the same time he is aware of the other drivers around him, just as he’s aware of the other band members during a performance.
After the workshop everyone was allowed to roam free! Most students were looking forward to Snarky Puppy who was the last band of the day. Joshua Sutherland, a student from City Music Boston, said his favorite part of the festival was seeing Corey Henry perform, stating, “I would have been upset for the rest of the year if he didn’t perform.” The Christian McBride Trio was another highlight from the festival. Many students sat in the front row mesmerized by his amazing performance. The energy and spirit of the trio was captivating.
Overall the day at Newport was a success. By the time the wheels on the bus starting rolling us back to Boston, almost everyone was drifting to sleep in their seats, exhausted from such a full day of inspiration and excitement at the festival.