The South Jersey Music Education Partnership has once again been able to offer more than 50 scholarships for students to study music over the summer free of charge and will not be stopping there.
The group is looking to reach even more students and offer even greater learning opportunities. The Pinelands Jazz Festival was started last year to accomplish this.
“It literally came from a dream,” Coordinator of the Pinelands Jazz Festival David Bermingham said. “I was planning a small concert last year at the Dr. James Still site, and that evening, I had one of those dreams that just keeps you up all night. By the end of the night, I knew what I had to do — have a jazz festival!”
The South Jersey Music Education Partnership is an all-volunteer organization that puts on this event.
The festival is funded through sponsors, donations and ticket sales, and any profits will be used by SJMEP to continue to support music education in the community.
The first year of the festival was a big hit and exceeded fundraising expectations thanks to the overwhelming support of the community, Bermingham said. Due to the success of the event last year, it had to be expanded this year. The 2015 Pinelands Jazz Festival will be spread out over the entire weekend of Aug. 28–30 and will be held at the YMCA Camp Ockanickon in Medford.
This will open new opportunities for the festival that were not available last year.
“Camping, canoeing, archery, rock wall climb and hayrides,” Bermingham said. “This year, we have access to the family-friendly amenities offered by YMCA Camp Ockanickon.”
The featured artists who will be performing are all from the Philadelphia region. There is no competition between the artists; they will just be playing for the guests to leisurely admire their music.
“Jazz music is an art form that is best enjoyed live. It is spontaneous, improvised and never played the same way twice in a row. We need to ensure that the next generation is exposed to this art form in order to continue this American tradition,” Bermingham said.
Most artists involved will have CDs for sale, and there will also be vendors selling crafts and other items on the premise.
The Woodshed is a feature this year that is a way to get younger, aspiring musicians involved with the festival by giving them the opportunity to play during the 15-minute intermissions between the acts on the main stage.
“It gives them experience and exposure to a wide audience and is a great learning opportunity,” Bermingham said.
There will be different ticket packages for fans of all interest levels. For $15, you get an all-access pass to enjoy the music from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday. For folks who are a little more interested in the overall experience of the event, there are weekend camping packages that include meals, jazz and camping in a cabin on Lake Stockwell. These packages will give you the full Pinelands experience and will start at $150.
Exclusive events throughout the weekend include the $55 “Friday Night in Paris” that includes wine, beer, French-inspired hors d’oeuvres and entertainment by The Hot Club of Philadelphia, and also the $30 “Sunday Jazz Brunch.”
Folks also have the opportunity to book a two-night camping trip to get away for the weekend and stay in a cabin while enjoying canoeing, archery, hayrides, rock wall climbing, hiking and biking across the vast 800-acre property in addition to the great music, shopping and food that will be happening all weekend.
Bermingham expressed his enjoyment of the festival and his excitement for the day to arrive so the musicians can start playing.
“We hope that many young people will be exposed to music that they may not be familiar with and that the tradition of jazz will continue to flourish with the next generation,” Bermingham said.
To purchase tickets, visit squareup.com/market/SJMEP. For more information on the South Jersey Music Education Partnership, visit SJMEP.org.