For music fans and jazz aficionados in the Chippewa Valley, the wait is over.
The 56th annual Eau Claire Jazz Festival makes a rousing return to the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire campus and downtown Eau Claire April 22-23, and this in-person event is making up for lost time in big ways.
The weekend festival traditionally includes four elements, all of which are returning in person for 2022, with one virtual option for the education sessions. The schedule for the festival is:
- Friday, April 22: Middle school, high school noncompetitive, college ensemble performances.
- Saturday, April 23: High school competitive ensemble performances.
- April 22-23, Instructional student sessions on campus throughout both days. See website for details. Public is welcome to attend.
- Back-to-back evenings of high-energy jazz music, featuring two-time Grammy Award winner Diane Schuur and Grammy nominee Donny McCaslin. Guest artists will be accompanied onstage by the Grammy-nominated UW-Eau Claire Jazz Ensemble I. Read guest details here.
- Shows both Friday and Saturday set for 7:30 p.m.
Jazz Crawl (formerly known as 52nd Street)
- 6 p.m. Friday, April 22, the Blugold All-Star Alumni Band kicks off the night at a new outdoor stage at Haymarket Plaza. The Jazz Crawl is the transformation of Barstow Street in downtown Eau Claire into a New York-style jazz scene. Over 40 exceptional music groups at 17 different venues will perform a variety of music styles including ragtime, blues, acoustic and big band.
- Ages 21-plus, purchase $15 wristbands through UW-Eau Claire ticketing.
All festival details can be found on the Eau Claire Jazz Festival 2022 website.
A signature UW-Eau Claire music event, the festival is run by Eau Claire Jazz Inc., an organization dedicated to music education and to bringing world-class music and entertainment to the community.
Quentin Volk, director of Eau Claire Jazz, is proud not only of the world-class music this “return to normal” will bring to the Chippewa Valley, but also of all the hard work of students in collaborating and organizing to make the festival better than ever.
“It’s part of my job to look out there to see what other festivals are doing, and it’s worth noting that the Eau Claire Jazz Festival is not only one of the largest in the country but the only one entirely run by students,” Volk says.
One of the interns who has been instrumental to this robust festival event lineup is Kate Rosenberger, a senior music education major from Cedarburg who is also a performing member of Jazz Ensemble I.
“Working as the logistics intern for Eau Claire Jazz has brought me opportunities as a student that I would have never had otherwise,” Rosenberger says. “There will be 90-100 groups or bands playing, and part of my role was assigning all the rooms for each group to store their belongings, warm up and perform.
“I’ve also created the entire two-day schedule of performances for all the middle and high school groups attending the festival. As a music education major, learning how to best communicate with all those band directors has been an amazing skill to acquire,” she adds.
For Volk, a professional jazz trumpet player and Blugold graduate himself, this long-awaited return to in-person jazz music and education is especially thrilling.
“Many band directors were really grateful for our virtual participation model last year,” Volk says. “While we are thrilled to have 90-100 schools taking part on campus once again, travel is just not an option for some schools for a variety of reasons. We’re really happy to still be able to offer the online performance and adjudicating for those who need or prefer that.”
“If there are folks still on the fence about whether to come out for the Jazz Crawl, I guarantee that we will have something for everyone to enjoy,” Volk says. “From brass bands in bars to a jazz bassoon group in Olson’s Ice Cream or a ukulele choir at Volume One — everyone can find a group that will mesmerize them.”