Credit: contributed / WHS Music Dept.

On Friday, April 28, Wilton High School‘s Little Theater will once again welcome young, talented jazz musicians from Wilton schools and local area high schools at the 46th Annual John Rhodes Jazz Symposium.

This year the program features Jazz ensembles from Cider Mill, Middlebrook and Wilton High School. Joining the Wilton ensembles are jazz bands from Weston, Darien, New Canaan, and Brien McMahon high schools.

Started by former Wilton music teacher John Rhodes, the Symposium provides a forum for students to perform for one another and the public. The Symposium also welcomes back world-renowned percussionist Arthur Lipner, who will provide feedback for each ensemble.

The afternoon begins with Wilton’s youngest jazz musicians from Cider Mill school at 4 p.m., followed by the eighth grade jazz band from Middlebrook school. After a short dinner break, Wilton High School’s Jazz 2 ensemble starts the second set with WHS’s Jazz 1 finishing the high school portion.

Band Directors Troy Williams and Niall Reynolds are especially pleased to welcome to Wilton High School Fairfield County’s own Berkshire Jazz Orchestra for a guest performance, scheduled for 9 p.m. Their repertoire for the evening will include several jazz standards and contemporary tunes. Organized in 1987, this regional jazz group comprises active performers and educators from the Fairfield County community and can be seen on stages across the region.

In total, over 150 students are expected to assemble for this event to share their talents and bring great entertainment to Wilton. Musical selections will range in style from traditional big band swing to Latin to ballads to contemporary jazz. This event is free and the public is welcome to watch and listen to fabulous music on Friday, April 28.

The Wilton Jazz Symposium was first held in 1976 and was the original jazz festival of its kind in our state. It was established by Rhodes, a veteran teacher and pillar of music education in Wilton. When it first began, his festival format was unique, but now it has become widespread throughout the state and region at large. Originally from Ohio, Rhodes dedicated over 50 years to music education, 42 of them in Wilton. He served as Band Director and Instructional Leader at Wilton High School and Middlebrook School, and also as an Operetta, musical, and theater director. To commemorate his retirement in June 2018, Wilton Public Schools officially bestowed his name on its annual jazz symposium.