The jazz program at The Marcia P. Hoffman Performing Arts Institute at Ruth Eckerd Hall has grown to become one of the most successful jazz education programs in the state. Under the direction of Frank Williams, award winning former band director at Boca Ciega High School, musicians meet every Monday evening where they begin their studies with the fundamentals of jazz. With study and experience, advanced musicians are promoted to the programís Big Band where their skills are honed and challenged with standard and contemporary jazz literature.
The Ruth Eckerd Hall/Clearwater Jazz Holiday Youth Combo is comprised of the Hoffman Instituteís most accomplished musicians. They perform for many high profile functions and fundraisers throughout each year. With generous financial assistance from the Clearwater Jazz Holiday Foundation, these talented youth are able to study at the Marcia P. Hoffman Performing Arts Institute at Ruth Eckerd Hall where they receive high caliber jazz instruction by an outstanding staff that includes respected band directors Chris Touchton, Tarpon Springs Middle School, and Christopher DeLeon, Tarpon Springs High School.
For many years these performing ensembles have had the pleasure of appearing annually at the Clearwater Jazz Holiday Festival in October as well as the Lakeside Jazz Festival in April, garnering accolades and awards from both events. The instructional program at the Hoffman Institute includes visits from notable guest artists including Chick Corea, Dave Koz, Kenny Drew, Jr., and Eric Darius to name a few. Past graduates of the jazz program include Billy Norris (vocalist/guitarist for RCA recording star Gavin Degraw), Steve DiBello (saxophonist for American Idol winner and 8 time Grammy nominated artist Fantasia), and many students who have gone on to attend the countryís top music schools.
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