A brand new jazz festival has been announced to be held in Birmingham this summer, along with the return of a free summer school course for local young people.

The event is expected to bring live jazz to Symphony Hall’s redeveloped foyers in August, in partnership with Jazz FM.

The team running the city’s Symphony Hall have announced the new festival as their Jazzlines Summer School returns later this year, with the Centenary Square venue looking forward to opening their doors once again to young musicians from Birmingham and the surrounding areas.

Taking place in the heart of Birmingham, this year’s free, non-residential course will run from Monday 23 to Friday 27 August for young people aged between 11 and 19.

Jazzlines Summer School

Jazzlines Summer School is open to young musicians from Birmingham and surrounding areas aged between 11 and 19THSH
Jazzlines Summer School is open to young musicians from Birmingham and surrounding areas aged between 11 and 19

The Jazzlines Summer School offers a comprehensive and broad-ranging programme aimed at emerging talent with a range of abilities, from beginners to advanced, who wish to expand their horizons and playing capability.

The course is designed to develop key skills in aural training, ensemble musicianship, jazz repertoire and harmony and is suitable for those who aspire to further their music studies as well as those who simply wish to learn new skills in an atmosphere which is fun, supportive and encouraging.

The Jazzlines Summer School is led by professional trumpet and bass player Percy Pursglove and professional vocalist and songwriter Sara Colman, both experts in helping young musicians build their skills in way that is best suited to each individual. They are supported by an experienced group of Jazzlines tutors, music educators and specialist jazz performers.

Open to young musicians from Birmingham and the surrounding areas aged between 11 and 19, the next generation of rising stars will be able to socialise and create music in the world-renowned Symphony Hall.

Emerging talent, from beginners to advanced, are invited to develop key skills in aural training, ensemble musicianship, jazz repertoire and harmony during this year’s non-residential free-to-attend Jazz Summer School.

Jazzlines Summer School offers a comprehensive and broad-ranging programme aimed at emerging talent THSH
Jazzlines Summer School offers a comprehensive and broad-ranging programme aimed at emerging talent

Town Hall Symphony Hall’s Jazz Programme Manager, Mary Wakelam Sloan said, “In August 2012, Jazzlines built on previous work to launch a free-to-access Summer School, consisting of a week-long course at Symphony Hall led by professional jazz musicians including Royal Birmingham Conservatoire tutors.

“This flagship project has taken place every year since and forms the basis for the year-round opportunities for young musicians via the Jazz and Gospel ensembles. Due to the pandemic, the Summer School in 2020 was cancelled and so we are thrilled that this year we can offer this unique provision to 11–19-year-olds in partnership with Jazz FM for the first time.

“This year, the young musicians will be some of the first to enjoy Symphony Hall’s brand-new state-of-the-art facilities. Combining the Summer School with the Festival means that we can offer the chance for the young musicians to see and hear some of the best British talent in action, as well as learning alongside them.”

Jazz festival

British-Bahraini trumpet player, Yazz Ahmed's music has been described as ‘psychedelic Arabic jazz, intoxicating and compelling’ THSH
British-Bahraini trumpet player, Yazz Ahmed’s music has been described as ‘psychedelic Arabic jazz, intoxicating and compelling’

This year, with a range of guest tutors in the city, the Summer School will run in conjunction with a brand new Jazz Festival, in partnership with Jazz FM, where audiences will be able to enjoy free and low-cost performances at The Spotted Dog in Digbeth, on stage at Symphony Hall and in Symphony Hall’s new Jennifer Blackwell Performance Space.

Like the UK’s leading national commercial radio service for jazz, soul and blues, the week of music from Monday 23 to Saturday 28 August will showcase the full spectrum of jazz and includes performances from international touring artists to local community bands.

Performers for this celebration of jazz include Yazz Ahmed (Jazz FM’s UK ‘Jazz Act of the Year 2020’), Warmer Than Blood and highly acclaimed, Birmingham-born jazz pianist Reuben James.

Birmingham James Reuben is known for his work with the likes of Sam Smith and John Legend Leleita Mckill
Birmingham James Reuben is known for his work with the likes of Sam Smith and John Legend

Jazz FM’s Content Director Nick Pitts says, “This already looks like it’s going to be a fantastic celebration of Birmingham’s young and vibrant jazz scene, especially after a year of lockdowns.

“Jazz FM has always been a passionate supporter of UK jazz education, and we are delighted to work with the brilliant THSH to help spread the good word on this project, including a number of music and interview specials on our nationwide platform.”

Previous Summer School tutors have included Birmingham saxophonist, flautist and composer Xhosa Cole, who was named BBC Young Jazz Musician 2018, and British jazz saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings.

Town Hall Symphony Hall’s Jazzlines Summer School is being held in partnership with Jazz FM and is supported by PRS Foundation, Arts Council England, George Henry Collins Charity, Grantham Yorke Trust, Michael Marsh Charitable Trust and Ronnie Scott’s Charitable Foundation as Talent Development Partners, supporting and inspiring the next generation of the city’s musical talent.


Jazzlines Summer School runs between Monday 23 and Friday 27 August. To find out more and apply for a free space, click here.

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