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Calling Composers: Wellington Jazz Festival Announces Four Exciting Jazz Commission Opportunities

Jazz-lovers will get the chance to hear fresh new music by Aotearoa jazz composers at the re-scheduled 2020 Wellington Jazz Festival, 18 – 22 November.

Today the Festival opened a call for four Kiwi composers to create new music to be premiered at the Festival at a series of live gigs.

The Wellington Jazz Festival was originally planned for early June but was cancelled because of the pandemic. Covid-19 has had a devastating impact on many of the Festival’s regular music venues, bars and eateries and for musicians and technicians across the region and country. In response, the Festival has reshaped its planned programme, shifting it to Spring, and is putting its resource and energy into ‘loving local’ - bringing audiences the finest homegrown jazz live in Wellington’s best music spots.

Creative Director Marnie Karmelita: “The Wellington Jazz Festival is a major date for local musicians and our music and hospitality venues, so we wanted to get up and running again as soon as possible. Supporting local artists and bringing music and people back to our local venues is our priority.

As well as playing at the Festival, one way we can support artists is to invest in them to create new music. This year we’re providing an increased number of composition and performance opportunities for Aotearoa-New Zealand jazz composers and musicians. We can’t wait for Wellingtonians and domestic visitors to the capital to join us for the results. Coming together to experience great music and Wellington’s famous hospitality will be a particularly special experience this Festival as we regenerate as a City and sector from the impact of Covid-19.”

Made possible by support from Creative New Zealand and Todd Corporation, the Festival will provide a fee of between $10,000 and $12,500 each to four composers to create a new piece of jazz music that will premiere at the Wellington Jazz Festival in November. The Festival supports and celebrates the sounds of Aotearoa, and at least one commission will be awarded to a Māori composer.

Wellington-based composer and saxophonist Jasmine Lovell Smith was delighted to hear about this opportunity for fellow artists and reflects on her experience composing for the 2019 Festival: “I was privileged to be commissioned to compose two new works which were performed by the Montreal-based CODE quartet in 2019. Jazz commissions are almost unheard of in New Zealand, and so this was a rare and valuable opportunity and landmark achievement in my career thus far.”

Submissions for composers are open now and close Friday 3 July. The Festival will open its programme for local gigs shortly and the full programme is due to be launched in September 2020.

Find out more and apply at

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