Camden Music Hub was announced as the winner of the 2019 Will Michael Jazz Education Awards at the Music and Drama Education Expo on Wednesday 6 March for their outstanding commitment to gender diversity in jazz and engaging in cross-genre collaboration. A special commendation was also awarded to Devon Music Service, for the continued excellence of their ensemble provision and to celebrate their retiring Head of Service, Ken Parr, who’s been the lynchpin in jazz provision in the area for decades. The award was presented by saxophonist, MC and broadcaster Soweto Kinch following a short performance from members of the National Youth Jazz Orchestra (NYJO), led by NYJO trumpeter and 2016 BBC Young Jazz Musician Alexandra Ridout.
The shortlist – announced at the Music Mark Conference in November 2018 – featured six hubs from across the country that had demonstrated innovative approaches to engaging young musicians in jazz and improvised music. This year, the awards have been administered by NYJO, and celebrated as part of the Music Education Council Awards. The awards continue to be supported by The Musicians’ Company.
Peter West, Head of Camden Music Service, said: “We are delighted that the work of our Hub partners, and of all the teachers and tutors has been recognised. This work has always been important to us, and we are very grateful for the Arts Council England funding which made Jazz Connect possible, and to the visiting artists who brought so much excitement and inspiration to our children and young people.”
Cameron Bray, Editor of Music Teacher Magazine said: “I am delighted that the Music & Drama Education Expo was able to host the presentation of the Will Michael Jazz Education Awards. The Expo is about bringing together music educators from all walks of life and it is vital that this involves celebrating and holding up examples of great work being done across the sector. Camden Music Hub should feel very proud of its contribution to jazz education, work which ensures that the genre will continue to thrive.”
Claire Furlong, Learning & Participation Manager at NYJO, said: “I would like to extend our congratulations to Camden Music Service and all this year’s shortlist for their commitment, despite the pressures facing music education, to providing innovative and excellent opportunities for young people. It has been a privilege for the National Youth Jazz Orchestra to manage the awards this year. Our thanks must go to Soweto Kinch and Alexandra Ridout for making the ceremony a fantastic occasion, the distinguished panel of judges and the Michael family, without whom this award would not exist.”
Leslie East, Chairman of the Musicians’ Company Jazz Committee, said: “As the principal supporter of the Will Michael Jazz Award, The Musicians’ Company is delighted to be associated with this year’s award to Camden Music Hub and with the recognition of five other hubs or music services providing outstanding jazz education. Our thanks to NYJO for the excellent administration of this year’s award and to Soweto Kinch for his inspirational introduction at the ceremony on 6th March.”