New director for festival

Last updated 12:58 10/04/2014

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The 2015 Nelson Jazz & Blues Festival has a new director - the Nelson School of Music, with its general manager Frances McElhinney becoming festival director.

Next year the festival will again be held during the first week of January, the 24th time the Nelson Jazz Club has staged the event. Last year's festival attracted jazz fans from as far away as Australia, Canada, the UK and the US.

Jazz Club secretary Mike Murphy said that coupled with locals and the Canterbury holiday crowd, the festival resulted in the many venues around the region running at capacity. During the five days last year, there were 45 events presented by 25 bands.

He said the 2015 festival was likely to follow a similar format to previous festivals, with a mix of ticketed concerts in selected venues and free events in bars, cafes, and outdoor venues around the Nelson and Tasman region.

As has been the tradition for many years, it will begin and end with the Jazz in the Park events at Fairfield Park and Washbourn Gardens.

Nelson Jazz Club president Dave North said the festival was firmly established as an iconic summer event for Nelson and the School of Music was a complementary fit.

Liam Ryan, who was the festival director during the last three years, has moved to Christchurch to take the position of performing arts manager at Canterbury Polytechnic Institute of Technology's department of creative industries. He will continue as artistic adviser to the festival, a role he also fulfils for the annual National Jazz Festival in Tauranga.

He also said the involvement of Nelson School of Music was "a perfect fit".

"[The] experience which Frances McElhinney brings to the event will be a shot in the arm for the festival. After three enjoyable years as director it is very heartening to hand over the reins and see the festival take shape with a new team and no doubt a fresh vision under Frances' stewardship."

McElhinney said the management contract for the Jazz & Blues Festival was an excellent step forward for the two organisations.

"By working collaboratively we can forge stronger links, combining our production know-how with the jazz club's passion for music right across the jazz spectrum."

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