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The Connection

Golden Empire Jazz Festival returns after more than a decade

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River City High School Jazz ensemble performs on stage at the Cosumnes River College Black Box Theatre. The Golden Empire Jazz Festival is back after more than a decade.

The California Music Educators Association Capitol Section sponsored their first Golden Empire Jazz Festival in over a decade at Cosumnes River College on Saturday.

The CMEA Capitol Section is one of nine sections in the state, covering Sacramento, Amador, El Dorado, Placer and Yolo counties. CMEA is part of the National Association for Music Education, originally founded in 1907 as the Music Supervisors’ National Conference, according to the NAfME website.

This year they brought back an exclusive Jazz Festival for high school students, with this year being the 69th Golden Empire Festival overall.

Brad North, festival coordinator, said, “It’s important that we have places they can come and it’s not this big, competitive thing and it’s educational.”

North, a retired band director who taught for 38 years, has recently become the Golden Empire Festival coordinator in the past three years. He is the recipient of the 2019 “Music Educator of the Year” award, according to CMEA website.

The festival is educationally based to help students further their education in music where they are evaluated by three judges, North said.

“When we’re going to festivals and we get taped from musicians that are well versed in the actual field, then we can get that knowledge and information and take it to what we’re trying to incorporate in our school,” said River City High School band director Rudy Cisneros, who is also a CMEA member.

River City High School saxophone player Oscar Hernandez, 17, said their jazz ensemble practiced three times a week since January for this specific performance.

Hernandez was one of two solos for their performance. He said he felt like he didn’t do as good as the last competition, but there is always room for improvement.

River City High School doesn’t have a theatre where their ensemble can perform and it felt good to have the opportunity to use one, Cisneros said.

Professor Maxwell Kiesner, a CMEA Capitol Section higher education representative and the co-host for the festival, said he was glad to expose students to CRC’s facilities.

“It’s just really nice to see people on campus and kind of see them, you know, explore spaces and understand ‘Oh, this is what you’ve got’,” Kiesner said.

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