FORESTVILLE - Music brings a universal language; enriching hearts and souls of everyone who hears its sweet welcoming voice.
Sometimes music has the magical power to bring people together for one evening of fulfillment through talented performers of all ages.
The Northern Chautauqua County Band Director's Association proudly presented its ninth annual Dunkirk Jazz Invitational at the state-of-the-art Forestville Central School auditorium Saturday evening. Chautauqua County Executive Vince Horrigan was the keynote speaker, talking about the importance of jazz and music education. Seven different jazz ensembles took part, as well as this year's professional house band The Fredtown Stompers.
Brocton Jazz Ensemble, featuring flute soloist Morgan Bennett.
Photo by Jasmine Willis
Debut jazz performers, Clymer Jazz Ensemble, playing at the ninth Dunkirk Jazz Invitational held in the state-of-the-art Forestville Central School auditorium.
Photo by Jasmine Willis
"Wherever you go around the world it is music that brings us together," Horrigan said. "Thank you to those who stepped forward to bring us great music. I look forward to a great night of jazz."
The DJI was founded by CEO Michael Wieloszynski, President/Coordinator Robert De Santis and Vice President David Golando in 2005. It started out with about 55 student performers and has grown to about 200.
"We are keeping live music alive and promoting jazz education," Wieloszynski said. "We give kids a chance to play a jazz concert like gig, which makes us one of a kind in the whole county."
De Santis noted this is not a competition.
"In sports it is always about the competition, but this is not like that," he said. "We have the stage divided in purple and blue so the students can watch their peers perform. They really support each other."
There is a belief that jazz in particular is a dying art form.
"Jazz is America's classical music. It is the one thing we can claim," De Santis said. "We (America) invented jazz and we want to keep it going."
He believes everyone needs to work together to stop the constant budget cuts to arts and music.
"Work together to make beautiful music before jazz is lost," he said.
De Santis would like a giant jazz festival for the event's 10-year anniversary.
"We want to get more of Western New York involved and see how much better we can be," De Santis said. "We are still hoping to get colleges involved too."
Wieloszynski wants to keep his creation going for years to come.
"There is not a lot of things in school where you can get 200 students from different schools to come together on a Saturday and support each other," he said. "This matters to us and makes us unique."
Forestville Middle School played first on the blue stage; while the Brocton Middle/High School played second on the purple stage.
Clymer Middle/High School performed for the first time in the DJI on the blue stage.
Clymer Jazz Ensemble Director Dan Klinczar announced to the audience they were very excited to be here.
Forestville School Board President Sylvester Cleary was one of those audience members.
"This is absolutely fantastic. Kids come together from different schools to perform for each other and with each other," he said. "It is also good for them to see professionals perform and have a great opportunity to learn from them."
Wieloszynski directed the Black Knight Jazz Ensemble from Silver Creek Central School which were one of the founding bands of DJI. He ended their performance with a universal favorite.
"This tune needs no introduction," he said, as the band played "Hey Jude" by The Beatles. "We think you will get this one."
Corner Pocket Big Band, Cassadaga Valley High School and Forestville High School also performed.