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Dominican Republic Jazz Festival GRAMMY-Award winning performers empower local youth through music

By Thursday November 22nd, 2018News

FEDUJAZZ is the educational foundation of the Dominican Republic Jazz Festival, which offers free music education to young people in the Dominican Republic. There are currently a hundred students at the center of the foundation in Cabarete and hundreds more from the North Coast of the Dominican Republic that also attend educational music workshops with the renowned musicians performing at the jazz festival. This year’s festival included eight free music education workshops in five Dominican cities. More than 1,000 children and youth attended the workshops. These workshops were varied and diverse, and in all cases, the students were exposed to new music from around the world and participated with singing and clapping.

The Berklee Global Jazz Ambassadors, a diverse group of visiting artists from around the world, conducted workshops with FEDUJAZZ students at the campus in Cabarete, where classes are offered year-round six days a week. These workshops offered students the opportunity to go in-depth on piano, drums, or upright bass, while building on the concepts of musicality and jazz vocabulary used in their regular lessons.

At Mustard Seed, an organization in Cangrejo, the Berklee Global Jazz Institute Ambassadors and their leader, Marco Pignataro, played a lively set for abandoned children with severe physical disabilities. The children, who are largely nonverbal and use wheelchairs, responded to the music in a manner that was incredibly moving to each person present. The children swayed their bodies in time with the music, clapped and smiled as the FEDUJAZZ volunteers walked among them with their instruments, giving the children a chance to see up close and touch a saxophone, flute, hand drum, and violin. FEDUJAZZ is honored to have a close relationship with Mustard Seed, and we are able to bring artists to work with these wonderful young people each year thanks to generous donor support. 

At Playa Alicia in Sosua, festival artists Tutti Druyan (vocalist), Edmar Colon (saxophone) and their band taught their students to clap and sing along to a song in Hebrew. At Playa Cabarete, GRAMMY-winning vocalist Luciana Souza led the children in a Brazilian song. Colombian harpist Edmar Cantañeda worked with children in Santiago, where he taught them about the rhythm of the joropo, a traditional music and dance genre of Venezuela and Colombia.

Several young students expressed their gratitude after a workshop at Hogar Luisa Ortea, a school in Puerto Plata, voicing how much it meant to them to have musicians come to their school from so far away to share their knowledge.

Finally, following a workshop with Luciana Souza and the Berklee Global Jazz Ambassadors, a group of FEDUJAZZ students took the Festival stage in Cabarete Saturday afternoon for a special youth concert alongside their professors. Their set list included one song, Fedublues, which the students themselves created alongside former visiting artist Orion Morales (watch a rehearsal video here). 

Want to be a part of programs like this? Please consider supporting FEDUJAZZ today!