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Jazz as an artform is a gathering of thought, personality, and expression. The Vanguard University Jazz Festival is not an exception! Hosted on Vanguard's campus, the non-competitive atmosphere at the Festival provides a healthy environment for collaboration, growth, and encouragement. Sit amongst likeminded musicians who share not only a love for jazz, but a desire to continue improving their performance!

Participating groups will be exposed to new sounds from their community of peers, while simultaneously enjoying performances from professional musicians. Feedback clinics for their performances provide an atmosphere of constructive development for all attending to hear. Top level performers/educators from Cal State Fullerton, Cal State Long Beach, Cypress College, Orange Coast College, and many others, will be in attendance to support this growing program.

The festival aims to prepare jazz students and educators alike, forming a localized standard to sound quality, educational affluence, and passion for the subject.

Enjoy non-competitive features, fun interactive events for all interested in jazz, and an intimacy that can only be achieved through the curated affiliate program Vanguard aims to promote. These down-to-earth renown professional musicians will be the accessible personalities your group will want to connect with!

Jazz Festival Highlights

Why Be Involved?

New opportunities, high-quality educational experience
Since 2003, the Vanguard University Jazz Program has provided world-class educational opportunities for high school bands to perform. Growing to two stages, a vendor fair, and live music performances from industry musicians, this collective of local institutions is a great place for professional development

“Festival Winners”, recognized for their outstanding ability, will be given the honor of performing with our clinicians, adjudicators and possibly, our spotlight guest artists, on the Newport Mesa Concert Stage at Newport Mesa Church.

Asides from this performance opportunity, attending groups will be invited to master classes, leadership sessions, instrument clinics, one-on-one practice sessions, and open-opportunity jam session.

Interactive audience participation will keep students and educators alike engaged, focusing on the promoting of their professional development.

General attendance also qualifies attendees to pursue our Vendor Fair, a coming-together of local music businesses supporting the most optimum execution of outstanding jazz.

2018 Featured Artists

Click each name to read more.

Kenneth Foerch, DMA, Associate Professor of Music, Festival Director

Kenneth Foerch is a studio musician, performer, and educator in the Los Angeles area. He performs as an on-call saxophonist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and has performed under the direction of Gustavo Dudamel, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Zubin Mehta, John Williams, and many others. He has appeared with the L.A. Opera, L.A. Chamber Orchestra, L.A. Master Chorale, Pacific Symphony, Long Beach Symphony Orchestra, Pasadena Symphony, and Long Beach Municipal Band.

His appearances have been with some of today’s leading artists, including Herbie Hancock, Elvis Costello, and John Legend.He has performed as a chamber musician for the “Green Umbrella” series of the L.A. Philharmonic and worked with international composers such as Thomas Alves.

Dr. Foerch was a co-founder of the Capitol Quartet, a saxophone quartet that performed throughout the United States with numerous orchestras including the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Grand Rapids Symphony, Rochester Philharmonic, as well as with conductors Marvin Hamlisch, Marin Alsop, Jeff Tyzik, and Daniel Hege. He is a member of the Encore Saxophone Quartet, Orion Saxophone Quartet, and a former artist/clinician for Boosey and Hawkes and served as former principal saxophonist and soloist with “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band.

His current positions held are Associate Professor of Music, Director of the Jazz Ensemble, Jazz Combo, and Saxophone Quartet, Conductor of Concert Band, and head of the Jazz Studies Department at Vanguard University. He is also Lecturer of Saxophone at Pomona College. He earned a D.M.A. degree from University of Southern California, M.M. from Eastman School of Music, and a B.M. from Michigan State University.

Gary Gopar

Mr. Gopar's extensive career in the music business has taken him throughout the United States, Europe and Mexico performing with notable ensembles that include the following musical styles: classical, jazz, Latin jazz, funk, cumbia, banda, quebradita, pop, musicals, ska, reggae and old school.

He has performed with Sublime, Long Beach Dub All-Stars, The Specials, Al Wilson, Brenton Wood, Rosie & The Originals and Tierra to name a few.

He has performed throughout Europe as the lead trumpet player for Princess Cruises.

Gary performed fanfare trumpet as a Toy Soldier in Disneyland's, "A Christmas Fantasy Parade" for 9 years. He also worked for California Adventure's, "Pixar Play Parade" for 2 years.

He currently plays trumpet in the jazz big band of famed trumpet virtuoso, Arturo Sandoval. On occasion, Gary has acted as road manager for Mr. Sandoval.

Gary's teaching schedule has included: Music Fundamentals, Theory, Musicianship, Music in Film, Jazz History, Music Appreciation, American Popular Music, History of Rock, Introduction to Piano, Applied Trumpet, Jazz Improvisation, Multicultural Music of America and Intercultural Music.

He is currently the Director of the Cypress College Jazz Big Band.

Professor Gopar earned his Bachelor of Arts in Music and Master of Music with a concentration in Jazz Studies from California State University, Long Beach.

Gary Gopar is a Conn-Selmer CenterStage endorsed Artist and plays on a Bb Bach Stradivarius 37S trumpet.

Jonathan Rowden

American saxophonist, composer and producer Jonathan Rowden was born in Los Angeles, CA and raised along the west coast from Seattle to Orange County. His quartet's debut in 2013 with the EP "Live At Vitellos" quickly garnered him a reputation as one of the foremost younger creative-music artists in the diverse LA jazz and creative-music scene. Since then he has established himself as one of the "singular voice[s]" and a name to watch in the national jazz/creative-music community. His melodic lyricism, rhythmic acuity, and a fiery passion for group improvisation takes listeners on a journey beyond listening, and to more deeply engaging in the moment. Named in 2016 by the industry-defining Downbeat Magazine as "a name to watch as a signature voice on the Los Angeles jazz scene" and described by LA Music Blog as "a musical juggernaut" Rowden's unique voice and penchant for combining driving, melodic-minded composition with free improvisation creates page-turning musical soundscapes. His sophomore album Skyward Eye" was released on February 17, 2017 with Orenda Records, along with the mini-documentary "Making Skyward Eye". His debut full-length LP 'Becoming' released in 2014 solidified his reputation as a national contender in the creative music scene at large, amassing praise from critics both local and abroad such as Downbeat Magazine and AAJ (All About Jazz).

Rowden is also the creator and founder of WYR, a collaborative, improvisational trio with drummer-percussionists Chris Wabich and James Yoshizawa. The group blends electronic-effects with acoustic world percussion and live sampling to create a sonic experience that is unique to itself and defies traditional genre-classification. WYR frequently collaborates with other artists in unconventional instrumentations. Most recently, they collaborated with acclaimed vocalists Areni Agbabian (lead singer of the Tigran Hamasyan Quintet) and Joanna Wallfisch (recent Sunnyside artist) in a live-filming project entitled Terranigma. The concert film was recorded and produced by Alex Chaloff at the Blue Whale on September 15th 2015, and released on January 8th, 2016.

Education continues to be an important component of Rowden's career - he is a former adjunct professor of music at MTSAC (Mount San Antonio Community College) and is currently an adjunct at CBU (California Baptist University) in Riverside, California and Cerritos College in Norwalk, CA. As a masterclass clinician regularly gives clinics and workshops at colleges, universities and high schools. Rowden also founded Tear It Down, as nonprofit organization for the development and presentation of creative-music artists in Los Angeles & Orange County now co-run by himself and June Pai. TiD presents curated, satellite concerts for southern California's most interesting up-and-coming artists.

J.Michael O'Neal

J.Michael O’Neal is a Los-Angeles based pianist whose sound traverses jazz, pop, and gospel with a fresh approach that blends intricate harmonies with urban-rhythmic undercurrents. His music can best be described as soulfully authentic, passionate, and imaginative. His unique talent gave him the opportunity to work with artists like Howard McCrary, James Ingram, Melissa Manchester, Jon Gibson, Tyrone Wells, Peabo Bryson, Cece Winans, and Brian Duncan. His conceptual groove stirs listeners to RE-Imagine Music. J.Michael’s music bridges the genre gap, fusing together diverse musical elements to create unique sounds in the music industry.

Who Should Attend?

+ Jazz Professionals

+ Jazz Educators

+ Student-lead groups

+ High School Bands

+ Middle School Bands

+ Jazz Aficionados, hoping to learn a thing or two about the creative process.

Contact Us

For questions or inquiries, contact Vanguard Music Department:

Phone: 714-619-6410

Email: music@vanguard.edu

Vanguard University Jazz Festival Sponsors 2018