Music is something that has the power to unite and excite many people. In the case of the Pittsburg State University Jazz Festival, music has been uniting the local community for nearly 50 years now.
The Jazz Festival has been hosted annually at PSU since 1968. This year, the Jazz Festival took place on Friday, March 6 in Memorial Auditorium starting at 7:30 p.m. The event not only showcased jazz musicians from PSU, but also allowed high school jazz groups to come and perform during the day, along with receiving ratings from expert musicians. There were also exhibit performances from well-known jazz musicians from across the country.
Professor of music at PSU and festival director Robert Kehle said that he was most excited for the Jazz Festival this year to include a performance from the Tom Kubis Big Band.
“The Tom Kubis Band out of LA has been on my bucket list,” Kehle said. “They don’t go out and tour. So, unless you’re in Southern California your chances of hearing them live are next to nil… So, to have them out here, it was really a joy.”
Kehle has been working with the music department at PSU for over 40 years and has been involved with the Jazz Festival for 42 years.
The PSU Jazz Festival hosts professional and aspiring musicians alike.
In preparation for the event, Kehle was able to visit area high schools and host clinics, sharing his knowledge of jazz music with young students. One thing that he emphasized was that this is a great opportunity for prospective Pitt State students to get involved with music programs. Later, Kehle went on to say that this is one of the biggest jazz events in the Midwest, bringing in students from Oklahoma and Missouri.
This event also allowed great opportunities for Pitt State students to learn more about music and get involved with other musicians.
One student in particular that benefitted greatly from the opportunities this event presented was senior in music education Chandler Glasgow.
Glasgow has been involved in the Jazz Festival as a student in the PSU jazz band for the past four years, but this was her first opportunity to be involved in the event as a teacher. Glasgow worked with students in the jazz band at Pittsburg High School in preparation for the event.
“Seeing the festival from a different perspective was interesting,” Glasgow said. “I had the opportunity to see growth within the Pittsburg High School jazz band, which was a great experience. I loved being able to be a part of this event as an educator instead of a student. It really reassured me that I want to be a music teacher.”
According to Glasgow, putting on the event was a collaborative effort. Both Kehle and Glasgow noted how amazing it was to see music bringing the community together.
“An event like this is only able to thrive and bring people closer together through music because of the tremendous support from community schools, PSU faculty and students,” Glasgow said.
According to Glasgow, Kehle had a major part in the planning of the festival.
“Professor Kehle does really well with organizing the festival and getting the word out about it,” Glasgow said. “He chooses great headliners that are some of the top jazz bands in the world.”
According to Kehle, the support the event receives from the Student Government Association (SGA) is critical to the Jazz Festival’s continued success.
“Without that [support], we wouldn’t be able to bring in these major attractions, and that helps the success also because we get close to 1,500 students participating in this event.., coming to PSU and they’re taking away an impression that’s fantastic,” Kehle said.