Hundreds will be heading to the Litchfield Hills this weekend to take in some world class music.
The 20th annual Litchfield Jazz Festival kicks off at the Goshen Fairgrounds and features a number of musicians and some gifted students.
Final warmups were under way on Friday.
Instructor Albert Rivera said he knew his students were in for a big weekend. Fifteen years ago, he said he was in their shoes. Now he works with the Litchfield Jazz Camp.
"Through some luck, some networking I got up here,” Rivera said.
From the Bronx to New Milford, CT, Rivera said he relied on scholarships to be able to attend the camp at the Canterbury School.
He said his years at the camp inspired him to attend a conservatory in New York and become a profession musician.
"The idea that what I do is a valued art, and it's priceless,” Rivera said. “It's an American art form and I learned that here, that this music is very deep and spiritual, and being surrounded by it was life changing."
Now Rivera said he works to pass on that gift to the hundreds of children attending this year’s sessions.
"It’s all about interacting with each other this week,” he said.
Waterbury native Rosemary Minkler is one of the students. She said she’s now in her third year at Western Connecticut State University.
Minkler said she discovered jazz at the camp at the age of 14.
"It has taught me to be independent, be a strong person and work even harder to become a better musician,” she said.
Vita Muir is the camp’s founder.
"[Students learn] the composition [and] how to play with other people,” Muir said. “But we really focus on life skills."
The combos have been working together to make it to this weekend. They’ve prepared for big performances.
Muir said it’ll be a trip down memory lane.
"I looked back at who was most popular with people and I brought those people back in, and I looked at who was there 20 years ago," Muir said.
As for Minkler, she said the camp has given her the confidence to pursue her dreams.
"You just gotta be in the moment, and listening is a huge part of jazz,” she said.
For a full lineup and to buy tickets to the Litchfield Jazz Festival, head to the event’s website here.
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