New Europe-wide support for next generation of jazz stars launched in Scotland by top festivals and music educators

New Europe-wide support for next generation of jazz stars launched in Scotland by top festivals and music educators

Published: 05/09/2019

A new generation of world-class jazz musicians training in Scotland are at the forefront of an ambitious new Europe-wide artist development programme unveiled on 5 September.

The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS) and Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival (EJBF) are joining with Europe’s leading jazz teaching institutions and festivals in a ground-breaking initiative that will see Scotland’s top young Jazz musicians study and perform in Germany, Norway, and Italy, as well as bringing some of Europe’s best young artists come to Scotland to play and learn.

The Jazz Workshop is a three-year programme funded by the European Union’s Erasmus Plus initiative. This is the largest project of its kind which aims to build connections between leading music schools and festivals, bringing together education and the professional jazz industry in talent development.

The partners top music schools and conservatoires from Parma, Hamburg, Nuremberg, and Oslo, plus Nuejazz, Elbjazz, Parma Frontiere, and Oslo Jazz Festivals – are in Scotland today to mark the start of this important moment in the development of jazz in Europe.

The ambitious initiative’s aims include creating new repertoire, developing greater synergy between emerging musicians and professional jazz scene and enhancing international collaborations.

Professor Tommy Smith, OBE, Head of Jazz at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, said:

“Jazz, by its very nature, is the essence of collaboration and breaking down borders so I’m delighted that Scotland’s jazz community of teachers, young artists along with its top festival are coming together in this brilliant way with our European counterparts.

“There have been waves of young jazz artists emerging from Scotland, England and other parts of Europe journeying through our RCS programme since 2009, and now exciting times are here to see many of them realise their dreams and being promoted at our festivals and clubs.”

Roger Spence, Producer, Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival, said:

“Scotland is producing a wealth of world-class jazz musicians and we’re absolutely delighted to be part of this ground-breaking opportunity to help them and their European contemporaries develop and shine on the international stage.

“This is a much-welcome investment in the future of jazz here in Scotland and across Europe and it’s going to be a real pleasure for me personally and for audiences in Scotland to play a part in nurturing the next generation of exciting jazz musicians.

“In 40 years of promoting jazz in Scotland, there has never been such a group of extraordinarily-talented musicians coming through at the same time and the Royal Conservatoire is to be credited for the role it’s playing in nurturing and developing talent, as are the range of organisations across the country who are working with primary and secondary school-age young people and introducing them to the artistry and pleasure of jazz.”

Fiona Hyslop, Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, said:

“Scotland has a strong and increasingly international jazz presence, and this talented group of young jazz musicians are fantastic cultural ambassadors, who will now be gaining invaluable performance and educational opportunities across Europe.

“Partnerships such as these are essential for strengthening our links with other countries, using the arts to foster a greater understanding of our cultures.”

One of the most exciting aspects of Scotland’s contemporary cultural landscape has been the emergence of a group of hugely talented young jazz musicians. Even in their early twenties, a number of them are major figures on the Scottish jazz scene, attracting large audiences at festivals and clubs and making strides into the international market.

They include Fergus McCreadie and Matt Carmichael, from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland’s highly-acclaimed Jazz programme.

Pianist Fergus McCreadie celebrated his 22nd birthday leading his trio in a packed concert at this year’s Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival (EJBF), his fifth consecutive year as a leader at the festival. His trio has already performed at Oslo Jazz Festival and headlined at high profile clubs and concerts in Estonia, Sweden, Norway and Lithuania, as well as all over Scotland and England. This autumn they play headline shows at Ronnie Scott’s in London and Stockholm Jazz Festival.

Saxophonist Matt Carmichael is 20 and recently completed his second year at RCS. He also headlined a show at EJBF this year and his quartet play the respected Latitude Festival then tour in England including a performance at Kansas Smitty’s in London in September.

EJBF has also announced talent development projects funded by the Scottish Government and Edinburgh City Council’s Place programme, which will link young Scottish musicians with peers from Norway and Belgium over the next few months.

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