The Jazzcat

Romania Jazz Education Summit Returns

by on Jun.09, 2008, under Events

Romania Jazz Education Summit Returns


The third annual Romanian Jazz Education Summit will begin July 5, and last

until July 10, 2008. All jazz music educators and most Romanian jazz students

will attend. As always, the purpose of this summit is to provide

intensive/detailed instruction of American jazz education techniques for

Romanian educators and students through the assistance of dedicated mostly

American jazz educators. The approximately 100 educators and selected performers

will meet in the rustic Carpathian village of Jupinesti, away from the numerous

distractions of cities like Bucharest.  


The entirely free summit (Romania's first ever summer music camp), returns

after budget restraints derailed its occurrence in 2007, following two previous

outings that garnered world wide attention in the jazz world. This was primarily

due to the shocking bankruptcy of the International Association for Jazz

Education (IAJE) a primary financial benefactor.   

For the past year, summit founder and Fulbright professor Tom Smith worked

diligently with the US Embassy and their subsidiary Fulbright Commission, to

fill the budget hole for this entirely free event, and was able to secure

funding at the ninth hour.


“For a while I thought we were done,” said Smith. “This has been so important

to the musicians of Romania and one of the best examples of American based arts

outreach in a foreign country I have ever heard of. Right now I think American

artists are the best goodwill ambassadors out there. We show a different side of

America than what most hear about in their media outlets. I am so glad that jazz

educators, led by this dedicated group of Fulbright scholars and professors continue to lead the

charge amidst numerous recent setbacks.”   


Three years ago, Smith and his Romanian colleague Johnny Bota forwarded

certification of a jazz studies program at Tibiscus University in the western

Romanian city of Timisoara. The university is the sponsor of food and lodging

for participants of the summit. Most faculty are college/university professors.

Several enlisted grants to have their travel compensated via their own

universities. In the past, some artist/educators have attended completely at

their own expense, while the others are compensated with just enough money to

make expenses. “That is how serious jazz educators are about pursuing such

endeavors,” said Smith.


Ironically, Tom Smith was handed the Jazz Ambassador Award, jazz music's

preeminent designation in jazz advocacy, this past January, on the final night

of the 2008 IAJE Convention in Toronto, in large part for his pursuance of

Romanian jazz education. His optimistic speech about spreading the word of jazz

around the globe signified the last positive words spoken before the collapse of

that forty year orgaization.


Smith, who has performed similar endeavors in South Africa and the

Appalachian region of the United States, has most recently set his sights on

bringing jazz concerts and future performance opportunities to hotspots like

North Korea. “I know it will be difficult to accomplish, but I want to do my

part to bring the world just a little closer. I also think the first jazz

activites in North Korea should be forwarded by jazz educator/ambassadors,” he

said. “I think it is perfectly logical to be proud of your country while not

always agreeing with its politics, and wanting potential rivals to see you face

to face. When we play jazz, everyone speaks the same language and shares a

similar point of view. At least it's a start.”

For further details about the third annual Romanian Jazz Summit, contact

Tom Smith at

Sarah Cox


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