Spring 2020

Music & good times while you stay at home

May 1-9, 2020

Thanks for joining. The good thing about doing this online is that you can join from anywhere in the world and this festival is archived so you can visit us any time you want.

We will continue to collect stories from past audience members, donors, volunteers, and artists. If you would like to add your story to our new Festival Memories page, please send a video or written text to

One more Jane Bunnett video because we just looked at the weather forecast and this one is the perfect “happy dance” soundtrack.
Festival favorite Evan Drachman talks about his centuries-year-old Stradivarius cello, which boasts amazing sound and endearing characteristics not found on modern cellos. Video captured by the Juneau Empire.

Today we want to let you know about our Director’s Circle, a group of our $1,000+ donors. Whether or not you are planning to join, click over to the page and watch Zuill Bailey’s video all the way to the end so you don’t miss his party trick.

Members of the Director’s Circle enjoy:

-Special event invitations from our artistic director
-An opportunity to sponsor a festival artist
-Two Presto Passes for early entry to get the best seats at concerts
-Early ticket purchase privileges

Arlo Guthrie was here for the festival in 2013. It just feels good to reconnect with his music today.

Another festival memory from Tom Melville.

“Those who know me will not be surprised that I have particularly fond memories of the vocalists who have graced the Festival stage over the years. And not just the classical singers. Hearing Carmen McRae was (nearly) as much a treat as hearing Marni Nixon. Tenor John Duykers came to Juneau after gaining international fame as the originator of the role of Mao Tse-tung in John Adams’ opera Nixon in China. Baritone Jubilant Sykes was just making a name for himself when he appeared here in a program that included spirituals as well as art songs. Since then he has gained wider recognition as the star of a new recording of Bernstein’s Mass.”

We will collect memories throughout the summer, so if would like to contribute yours, please email it to

It’s our pleasure to introduce you to this year’s original finale act, Jane Bunnett and Maqueque.

Five-time Juno Award winner, Jane Bunnett has turned her bands and recordings into showcases for the finest musical talent from Canada, the US, and Cuba. She has been nominated for three Grammy Awards, received The Order of Canada, The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal, and most recently, The Premier’s Award for Excellence.
With Maqueque, Bunnett has created something new and phenomenal in the world of jazz. What started out five years ago as a project to record and mentor young brilliant Cuban female musicians, has become one of the top groups on the North American jazz scene. In the last year, they have played in major jazz festivals like Newport and Monterey, been featured on NPR’s program Jazz Night in America, were nominated for a Grammy Award for their newest release, and, most recently, were voted as one the top ten jazz groups by the prestigious DownBeat magazine’s critics poll.

An internationally acclaimed musician, Bunnett is known for her creative integrity, improvisational daring, and courageous artistry. Her exploration of Afro-Cuban melodies expresses the universality of music, and her ability to embrace and showcase the rhythms and culture of Cuba has been ground-breaking. She has toured the world bringing her own special sound to numerous jazz festivals, displaying her versatility as a flutist, saxophone player, and pianist.
Our beloved lighting guy and all-around get it done guy Toby Clark shares his festival memories. Thank you Toby and we will see you soon.
Do you want to learn more about the euphonium and hear some beautiful music? Adam Frey made a mini-series for Juneau Jazz & Classics fans.

It’s a little taste of what we do with our education and outreach programs, and it’s perfect for kids and adults alike. Check it out!
Here’s part 2 of the mini-series Adam Frey made for Juneau Jazz & Classics fans, all about the euphonium. Listen to that fast playing!

It’s a little taste of what we do with our education and outreach programs, and it’s perfect for kids and adults alike. Check it out!
We are hearing from some of you that your favorite recent memories are of the Mark O’Connor concert. Fire up this video on this sunny day out at your bonfire.
Remember 7 years ago when Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials played at the festival?

Do you have any memories to share about the blues concerts you have been to over the years? We want to see the blues fans represented, so you can send a written story or recorded video via messenger or to and we will feature you, even if it’s after the festival.

Photo by Cody J Bennett Photography
“A triumphant road that everyone should hear.” – The Blues Scene

That’s exactly what we thought when we heard this song from the Amanda Fish Band. We are sorry to miss her here in Juneau for our blues dance. Go check out her music!

The Juneau Jazz & Classics Board of Directors is a creative, connected, fun-loving group of people. Many of them start out as festival volunteers and decide to take a bigger role in helping JJ&C fulfill its mission. They do a fantastic job with governance, fundraising, and vision. They also work hard (and play hard?) during the festival. You have probably seen many of them behind the bar at concerts, serving as house manager, selling tickets, and shuttling the visiting musicians around. They do everything they can to make sure the festival is a complete success. Thank you to all current and past board members.

Current Board:
Zane Jones – Chair
Lon Garrison – Vice Chair
Laura Lewis Haywood – Secretary
Alex Smith – Treasurer
Vicki Van Fleet – Past President
Christy Virgilio-Ciambor
Madeleine Lefebvre
Jacob Soboleff
Janet Schempf

Today is the day of the blues dance, so we wanted to spotlight one of our favorite blues fans.

Sister Grace is the Juneau Jazz & Classics official blues goddess.

Over the years Grace Sahaj Elliott has had many festival jobs, from emceeing the Blues cruise to stage managing, house managing and squiring artists around town. But this is one position that she alone has held:

As soloist with over one hundred orchestras worldwide, as a captivating recitalist and chamber music performer, as an innovative jazz artist, and as a prolific recording artist, two-time GRAMMY® Award winner Stoltzman has defied categorization, dazzling critics and audiences alike throughout many musical genres. His collaborations with his wife Mika delight and charm millions.

Enjoy this this musical postcard to our Juneau Jazz & Classics audience.

Tom Melville- The man behind our lucid and fascinating program notes every year has shared some wonderful memories with us.

“I somehow missed the handful of concerts that constituted the first Juneau Jazz & Classics Festival in 1987, but I can distinctly remember several aspects the second festival, in particular soprano Candace Goetz to whom I was introduced by a favorite Festival volunteer Peter McDowell, her escort around Juneau.

By the following year I was fully involved, having taken over the job and privilege of writing program notes from George Hoyt who had moved out of Juneau. From that point my own recollections of the Festivals have been colored not just by the actual performers and performances but also by my research and writing in the months before….” Read the rest of the story here.

If you missed William Ransom and Zuill Bailey on Capital Chat on Tuesday, you can listen now.

If you like what you hear, make sure you mark your calendars for Saturday at noon for the Zoom Artistic Director’s Chat with Will, Zuill, AND Linda Rosenthal!

Sign up for our email list to get the link first. Head to and scroll to the bottom to sign up.

Juneau Jazz & Classics has a deep commitment to music education. Most guest artists stay for most of the festival and spend time teaching in the schools and also teach workshops in the evening for adults.

Adam Frey, low brass soloist and educator, is spending time this week in Juneau School District virtual classrooms, playing music and inspiring students to work hard in school and in life.

He has three courses with Musician’s Toolkit for adults too, if you are a euphonium or tuba player who would like to learn from him.
Right now we would be recovering from last night’s jazz concert and jazz jam with The President’s Own United States Marine Band. Enjoy this great concert from March 1 celebrating Charlie Parker’s 100th birthday.

“My favorite memory of the Festival is that of the concert at the Glacier — I think it was 2001. For some unknown reason, in the winter planning stages, Linda and I decided we would have an OUTDOOR CONCERT in front of the Mendenhall Glacier by the falls. WHAT WERE WE THINKING?? It was one of those rainy, soggy, dreary Mays, with rain every single day, and as you recall, the Festival was in the latter half of May in those days. We were dismal and forlorn.”

Since 1987, we have brought in 138 jazz and blues groups and 143 classical ensembles and soloists. Many of them have been repeat musicians.
That's a lot of music flowing through Juneau! If you ever can't remember what year your favorite artist came to the festival, here's a handy page for you.
You could also make a game out of it at parties. Guess the year Dave Brubeck Quartet played the festival...
The Marine Band is really versatile, and when you watch the Youtube playlist of their concert from March, I think you will agree.
Board member, volunteer, and former staff member Laura Lewis Haywood tells us one of her early memories of the festival. Do you have a treasured festival memory you would like to share? You can send a video or a written story to

Thanks Laura! Stories like these are what keep the festival alive and exciting.

Giving back isn’t cancelled. #GivingTuesdayNow is a new global day of giving and unity and we invite you to join in this day. You can help us get the next festival up and running and get professional musicians back to performing and educating. 

So many of you loved the video with William Ransom and Yinzi Kong and wanted to hear more of Yinzi. Here’s a solo she played with the Emory Wind Ensemble a few years ago.
Do not miss this musical postcard from jazz pianist Gary Motley, who was an artist at the festival in 2017 and 2018. It’s the best feeling when the musicians we fall in love with also fall in love with Juneau. The connections last far longer than the one festival. Thank you Gary!
Today we celebrate our partnership with Alaskan Brewing Co. They have been partners with Jazz & Classics from the beginning and we have had many concerts in their spaces over the years. Today you can enjoy the Amernet String Quartet playing Beethoven for our “Beethoven and Brew” event. Grab your own brew and enjoy the pairing with this music.
Two notes of interest.

1. Juneau’s own Franz Felkl is a violinist in this recording as he used to be a member of the Amernet String Quartet. He was also scheduled to be a featured musician at the festival this year.

2. This is the year of Beethoven’s 250th birthday.
Artistic Director William Ransom and his wife Yinzi Kong send their regards from across the country. Listen in for this intimate and moving house concert, just for Juneau Jazz & Classics fans.
Today is the Amernet String Quartet‘s day. Please enjoy this music hour video.

Praised for their “intelligence” and “immensely satisfying” playing by the New York Times, the Amernet String Quartet has garnered recognition as one of today’s exceptional string quartets and are Ensemble-in-Residence at Florida International University in Miami. Their sound has been called “complex” but with an “old world flavor.” Strad Magazine described the Amernet as “…a group of exceptional technical ability.”
One of the Jazz & Classics signature events is Puttin’ on the Ritz. It’s an evening with food, drinks, jazz AND classical music.
You can see why Adam Frey was our pick for the Family Concert and for a residency throughout the schools.
The Strings at the Shrine concerts have become a favorite over the last 10 years. The acoustics and scenery are unmatched. Fun fact: the fist ever Strings at the Shrine concert sold out in just a few days, so we quickly added a second concert. That’s how the two show tradition started.

We could not do this without the support of businesses, grants, individuals, volunteers, and more. Today we would like to give a shoutout to our sponsors, who contribute financially, and also partner with us to house our artists, get the word out about the festival, bus students to concerts, and help behind the scenes. Thank you sponsors! We encourage you to check out the list on our website and thank and support these businesses who invest in the arts in Juneau. Alaska Airlines, 800/94.9 KINY, KTOO, University of Alaska Southeast

Kicking off the festival was “Pizza & beer with Bill & Will,” the free pre-concert hang out with Bill Charlap and our artistic director, William Ransom. It’s nice outside so we would be sitting in the courtyard of Centennial Hall with some food trucks and drinks in hand. Then head inside for an unforgettable intimate concert with the Bill Charlap Trio, with a champagne toast afterword with the Director’s Circle members.

Instead, enjoy this video of Bill Charlap with Tony Bennett. In 2016, “Tony Bennett & Bill Charlap: The Silver Lining, The Songs of Jerome Kern,” was awarded a Grammy for Best Traditional Pop Album.

Our classical musician Spotify playlist. Go explore the albums and find a new favorite.
Live music is obviously our preference, but if you want to have your own festival at home, check out these Spotify playlists. They include some of the artists who were supposed to play at the May festival. This is just the tip of the iceberg on their recordings, so please go support your favorites from this list.
Here’s the jazz & blues playlist.
A short clip from the 2019 festival