Rejuvenated jazz festival arrives at BU next month

Four students play saxophone while seated at music stands
The Brandon University Jazz Festival will take place from March 16 to 18, 2023

The return of Brandon’s biggest jazz celebration is less than a month away.

The Brandon University (BU) Jazz Festival will take place from March 16 to 18, 2023 at the BU School of Music and the Western Manitoba Centennial Auditorium (WMCA), with tickets to the showcase concerts now available at

The event marks the first jazz festival in the city since 2019 and the first to be hosted by the BU School of Music. It succeeds the Brandon Jazz Festival, which has been a highlight for aspiring musicians across Manitoba and beyond since 1983.

“Our faculty have put a tremendous amount of work into preparing for this event. Music educators who brought their students to BU year after year tell us how much they’ve missed the jazz festival, and we’ve missed their presence on our stages and in our rehearsal rooms,” said Greg Gatien, Dean of Music at BU. “The jazz festival is a great opportunity for our BU students to share the stage with professional performers and to share their love of jazz with a new generation of musicians.”

The Brandon Jazz Festival was a non-competitive event, first held in 1983, bringing together thousands of participants from across Manitoba as well as other provinces and the United States. They would perform and receive instruction and adjudication from educators and professional musicians from across Canada and the United States, as well as take in concerts featuring visiting musicians and students from BU’s School of Music.

“I grew up with the Brandon Jazz Festival, first as a school-age student, and later as a university student,” said Anna Penno, who is a member of the organizing community and will serve as an adjudicator at this year’s festival.

The festival has always been one of my favourite events of the year and played a huge role in inspiring my love for music. I’m so happy to have it back and to be a part of it as we welcome students, new and old, back to BU.

Anna Penno

The rekindled festival will follow a similar format to the previous event, highlighted by evening concerts featuring the Brandon University Big Band, under the direction of Diogo Peixoto and Gatien, performing alongside internationally acclaimed guest artists at the WMCA. This year’s star-studded concerts will feature Grammy-nominated vocalist Sara Gazarek and Canadian jazz luminaries Karly Epp (voice) Erin Propp (voice), Luis Deniz (saxophone), Rachel Therrien (trumpet), Kelsley Grant (trombone), and Claire Devlin (saxophone).  The concerts will take place on Thursday, March 16 and Friday, March 17, with shows at 6:30 and 9:00 each evening.

“The Brandon Jazz Festival occupied a special place in the School of Music calendar for nearly 40 years, and we’re excited to be bringing it back,” said Gatien. “Hosting the festival is a boon to Brandon businesses, a chance to welcome the public for spectacular performances, and a great way to introduce students to Brandon University and our Music programs. We’re going to show everyone a great time next month.”

More information about the BU Jazz Festival is available at


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