The Arthur & Helen Baer Foundation has awarded a $35,000 grant to Jazz St. Louis in support of the upcoming 2014-15 season of its flagship education program JazzU. The gift marks the fifth consecutive year of the Baer Foundation supporting JazzU, with gifts of $30,000 in 2010, 2011, and 2012, with an increase to $35,000 starting in 2013.
JazzU is a free program that places talented middle and high school musicians in small jazz combos, which meet weekly between September and May and receive instruction from the top musician/educators in the area. With the support of the Baer Foundation, this competitive program has grown from accepting all 43 students who auditioned for the 2009-10 season to selecting 60 emerging musicians from a pool of 115 who auditioned for the 2013-14 school year. Plans to reach and accept even more students are moving forward.
“While many St. Louis schools have jazz Big Bands, the foundation of this music for over 60 years has been the jazz combo—trios, quintets, etc…—so JazzU is really trying to fill the need for small group training and playing,” said Phil Dunlap, Jazz St. Louis’s Director of Education.
In addition to receiving weekly instruction from some of the area’s top musicians and educators, including Artist in Residency Peter Martin, JazzU students get the opportunity to work with many of the artists who appear on the Jazz at the Bistro concert series. JazzU students are also able to attend the Jazz at the Bistro performances for free and receive transportation subsidies as needed. The Jazz St. Louis All-Stars, the top group in JazzU, along with some of the more advanced JazzU students, regularly receive playing opportunities in the area, many of which pay the students as any professional jazz group would be paid.
“I have had the pleasure of witnessing, first-hand, the impact that the JazzU program has had on these students, both musically and personally,” said Baer Foundation trustee Pat Stark. “The economic diversity that comes from offering a completely free program is very exciting, so we are thrilled to continue our support.”
Application and audition information for the upcoming school year is now available at www.jazzstl.org.
The top two groups in 2013-14 JazzU program will be performing with special guest artist Terell Stafford on Friday, May 23 and Saturday, May 24 at Jazz at the Bistro. All tickets for those performances are $5 and may be purchased by calling the Jazz St. Louis Box Office at 314.289.4030 or visiting jazzstl.org. Tickets are also available through the MetroTix Box Office at 314.534.1111.
Additional funding for the 2013-14 JazzU program comes from a lead gift from Monsanto Fund and supporting gifts from Ameren Missouri and the Staenberg Family Foundation.
About the Arthur & Helen Baer Foundation. The Arthur and Helen Baer Foundation was funded through the generosity of Arthur and Helen Baer. Arthur was the former CEO of Stix Baer and Fuller.
The Foundation’s purpose is to fund arts programs that enhance the lives of children and adults. The Foundation also funds community betterment programs in the greater St. Louis area.