Surrey’s Sullivan Heights Secondary will be filled with the sound of music for two days and nights this month.
Around 2,000 student musicians are set to jazz it up during the 2020 Surrey Schools International Jazz Festival, to feature daytime and evening performances at Bell Performing Arts Centre on Friday, Feb. 21 and Saturday, Feb. 22, at 6250 144th St.
Festival admission is by donation to Surrey Meals Program.
Now in its 38th year, the school district-presented festival is among the largest and longest-running in Canada.
The event was founded by Bob LaBonte, a Surrey band teacher, who planned the inaugural festival in the cafeteria of Queen Elizabeth Secondary. LaBonte taught in the district for 38 years prior to his death in 2012.
The festival was an immediate hit in the early 1980s.
“Due to the overwhelming response to having a jazz festival in Surrey it was moved to the Surrey Performing Arts Center for its second year where it remained for 14 years. Since then, the festival has been administered by the Surrey School District,” explains an event post at surreyschools.ca, where performance times and other festival details are also posted.
This year’s highlights include a performance by Nitecap, a Capilano University-based vocal jazz group, at noon Friday (Feb. 21) in the Bell theatre. That evening, a Rep Band Showcase gets going at 7 p.m., followed by the music of BRAZZ.
On Saturday (Feb. 22), a big band from Cap U hits the theatre stage at 12:25 p.m., followed that evening by a Big Band Showcase and awards, starting at 7 p.m.
During daytime hours, from 8 a.m. on, the school’s theatre, gym, library and band room will be busy with performances by school bands and vocal groups from around the region, including several representing Surrey.
Every year, scholarships and awards are given to young musicians who attend the festival. The 2020 awards list will be available after this year’s festival ends.