Four, three, two, one, celebrating Ara’s 25 years of music

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20 May 2016

Bret Hirst will be performing at the concert Sydney based musician Brett Hirst is among almost 50 Ara graduates, tutors and students performing at the 25th Anniversary Concert as part of the Cavell Leitch New Zealand International Jazz & Blues Festival.

Music endures. And reinvents itself. And young musicians continue to fall for the allure of writing and performing music.

Head of Creative Industries at Ara Institute of Canterbury, Tom Rainey, has been overseeing the training of keen young musicians for 25 years. On 25 May Ara will showcase talented graduates, students and tutors in a gala concert at the Isaac Theatre Royal, which is a highlight of the world class Cavell Leitch New Zealand International Jazz & Blues Festival.

"They keep coming through our programmes, young people with ability and a passion for exploring music. Formal education gives them the playground to flex their muscles, to grow in artistic sensitivity and to be creative. They are both nurtured and challenged to be the best musicians they can and the work is there when they graduate – many teach and start performing around town while they are still students."

The festival is riddled with musicians associated with Ara's Music Arts, formerly known as the CPIT Jazz School, including current tutors LA Mitchell, Oakley Grenell, Doug Caldwell, Jennine Bailey and Harry Harrison. The 25th anniversary gala concert is a unique opportunity to witness a lot of talent all in one place. The Isaac Theatre Royal hosts the event, making its festival debut.

"We continue to be incredibly well supported by Christchurch audiences. We have had regulars coming to our One Monday concert series, where we feature students, graduates, tutors and visiting artists, for years. The Music Arts programme is like a big family and the connections are everywhere, both here and overseas."

Alongside preparing for her own show at the festival, Music Arts graduate and singing tutor Kate Taylor has been organising the programme – in other words, pulling a lot of talent into a three hour feast of music. Overseas visitors include graduates who have long established themselves in Sydney's buoyant jazz scene, double bassist Brett Hirst, who plays for Vince Jones Band and the Mike Nock Trio and Big Band amongst many others, and pianist Gerard Masters who counts Missy Higgins amongst the artists he plays with.

The almost 50 musicians in total perform in a series of ensembles showcasing different styles of music from jazz to funk and pop. Creativity and diversity are the hallmarks here, reflecting the changing nature of music education and the timeless importance of excellent musicianship at Ara.

Don't miss this landmark musical event. Details and tickets at: