Festivals At The Conservatory


Festivals At The Conservatory

Music Festivals Open To The Public

Our various music festivals in Milwaukee are open to a wide variety of skill levels, from as early as elementary school age to adult students. See what festivals meet you or your child’s comfort level and register today.

students playing instruments for a crowd

March 18 – 19, 2020

Jazz Festival 2020 Has Been Cancelled

Like many, the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music has been following the developments of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and maintaining the health, safety, and well-being of our students, teachers, guest artists and staff during this crucial time is our top priority.

In accordance with with the public health emergency declared by Gov. Tony Evers and guidance from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services on gatherings of 250 people or more, we have made the decision to cancel next week’s WCM Jazz Festival.

All festival registrants will receive a full refund of their registration fee.

We appreciate your understanding as we make decisions in the best interest of our community.

If you have questions or would like to speak to someone directly, please contact us at info@wcmusic.org or by calling (414) 276-5760.

Thank you for your continued support and please stay safe during this difficult time.

Jazz Festival 2020 Guest Artists

Gerald Cannon



Jazz bassist, composer and visual artist Gerald Cannon was Born in Racine, Wisconsin, attended The University of Wisconsin at La Crosse and studied at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music in Milwaukee. Gerald moved in New York City at age 28, and he started to play in the after hours band at the Blue Note Jazz Club. He has performed with legendary musicians such as Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, Dexter Gordon, Cedar Walton Trio with Billy Higgins, Jimmy Smith, Jimmy Scott, James Williams, Hamiett Bluiett, Ed Thigpen, Frank Foster, John Bunch, Eddie Harris, Stanley Turrentine and Bunky Green, Roy Hargrove, George Coleman, Elvin Jones, Wynton and Branford Marsalis, Pat Martino, Louis Hayes, The Cannonball Legacy, Ernestine Anderson, Carmen Lundy, Abbey Lincoln, Gary Bartz, Joe Lovano, Monty Alexander, Larry Willis, Eddie Henderson, Steve Turre, Eric Reed, the Dexter Gordon Legacy Ensemble, and remains the Musical Director for the McCoy Tyner Trio.

He has and continues to perform major jazz festivals all over the world, including the North Sea Jazz Festival, Cape Town Jazz Festival, Montreux Jazz Festival, Umbria Jazz Festival in Perugia, and the Montreal Jazz Festival, conducting master classes throughout the U.S. and Europe. He taught at the Oberlin Conservatory in 2014, the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music in Milwaukee, and the New School in New York and at Long Island University. He also gave a number of master classes at the University of Wisconsin in Whitewater and Eau Clair, at Emery University in Atlanta, Georgia and at the Conservatory of Amsterdam. Cannon was also a faculty member of the Conservatory of Maastricht, Holland . Gerald is currently on the faculty of the Juilliard School in Manhattan.

Donald Edwards



Since his emergence in 1987, Donald Edwards has played across the globe with some of the finest musicians in jazz. He has now built a reputation all his own. Donald Edwards has performed with jazz greats such as Freddie Hubbard, Tom Harrell, Donald Harrison, Jesse Davis, Kurt Elling, Ralph Bowen, Branford Marsalis, Ellis Marsalis, Henry Butler, Orrin Evans, Joey Calderazzo, Wynton Marsalis, The Mingus Big Band, Dynasty & Orchestra, Charlie Hunter, Russell Malone, Dave Holland Conrad Herwig, Alvin Batiste, Alex Sipiagin, Seamus Blake, Joe Locke, Dave Holland, George Colligan, Mark Whitfield, Joe Locke and Diane Schuur.

After winning the Louisiana Arts Ambassador’s Award in 1994 for Music Composition, Donald Edwards became one of the most sought after drummers on the New Orleans music scene. He came up playing different kinds of music ranging from marching band, hip-hop and pop to r&b, jazz, funk and gospel music. As a result, Edwards is now called on to play many different genres of music and meets them with creative interpretation and virtuosity. Donald Edwards is among the vanguard of players on the New York scene today.

Edwards has three recordings as a leader -“In The Vernacular” (Leaning House Label),“Ducktones” (Zoot – T Label), “Evolution Of An Influenced Mind”- (Criss Cross Label) and “Prelude To Real Life”- (Criss Cross) and is also involved in the production of numerous recording projects. With skills steeped in and out of the rich and varied traditions of Louisiana, drummer and composer Donald Edwards is dedicated in his pursuit of creative improvisation, compositional development, and experimentation with rhythms through conversing in dialects of a universal language we call music.

Derrick Gardner



Jazz trumpeter, Derrick Gardner, inspired by the finest hard-blowing funky bop bands of the 1960‟s, is working to extend that great tradition as a composer, arranger, performer, leader and educator. With extraordinary, creative natural talent, Derrick quickly made his mark upon arriving on the New York jazz scene in 1991. There he began a top-flight career that has taken him around the world performing internationally with the Count Basie Orchestra, (1991-present), Frank Foster‟s Loud Minority Band, Harry Connick Jr.‟s Big Band, The Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra and Swiss tenor player Roman Schwaller‟s European Sextet. Among his performance locales are Europe, Scandinavia, Russia, Japan, South Africa and Thailand as well as many premiere venues in the United States. Over the last 18 years Derrick has worked with a tremendous litany of artists that include late Dizzy Gillespie, George Benson, Frank Foster, Jon Faddis, Nancy Wilson, Tony Bennett, Joe Williams, Rufus Reid and Clark Terry just to name a few.

Mr. Gardner formed his own sextet, The Jazz Prophets, in 1991; it continues to be the primary vehicle of his distinctive, hard-driving music. The band‟s three-man horn line, consisting of himself, tenor sax player Rob Dixon and Derrick‟s brother, trombonist Vincent Gardner of the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, has been together since the beginning. Derrick‟s recording by The Jazz Prophets, A Ride to the Other Side, marked his Owl Studios debut in the spring of 2008. Like Slim Goodie (his highly regarded first recording as a leader on his own Impact Jazz imprint in 2005) it boils with the long-standing collective‟s sheer passion for the soulful, funky jazz sound for which Cannonball Adderly and Horace Silver built solid foundations with their 1950‟s and 60‟s ensembles. The Prophets take that traditional straight ahead sound into new, invigorating territory.

Rick Germanson



Jazz Pianist Rick Germanson has been highly in-demand on the New York City jazz scene for two decades. A native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Rick relocated to New York after winning the grand prize at The American Pianists’ Association Jazz Piano Competition in 1996. Since then, Rick has released four recordings as a leader and is documented on over fifty recordings as a sideman. In 2004, Rick was named “Best of New Talent” by the monthly publication All About Jazz. Rick has toured around the world appearing at major concert halls, festivals and clubs. His talents have been summoned by many top jazz musicians: Elvin Jones; Louis Hayes; Jimmy Cobb; Joe Chambers; Grady Tate; Bobby Durham; Ray Appleton; T.S. Monk; Will Calhoun; Pat Martino; Russell Malone; Slide Hampton; Curtis Fuller; Papo Vazquez; Steve Turre; Delfayo Marsalis; Steve Davis; Frank Morgan; Gary Bartz; Charles McPherson; James Spaulding; Donald Harrison; Vincent Herring; Jeremy Pelt; George Coleman; Eric Alexander; Javon Jackson; Eddie Henderson; Tom Harrell; Brian Lynch; Jim Rotondi; Regina Carter; Marlena Shaw; Ray Mantilla; Cecil Payne; Charles Davis and Steve Nelson; among many others.

Justin Robinson



Justin Robinson first picked up a horn at the age of 13, and honed his sound while attending the High School of Music and Arts (LaGuardia High School) in New York.

Robinson developed a passion for the alto sax and, from the influences of Charlie Parker and Jackie McLean, crafted his own distinctive sound. Robinson has collaborated with eminent artists such as the Harper Brothers, Cecil Brooks III, Abbey Lincoln, Diana Ross, Little Jimmy Scott, and the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band, The Dizzy Gillespie All Star Band, and most recently, The Roy Hargrove Big Band in addition to the Roy Hargrove Quintet.

Justin Robinson wields a hefty portfolio: joined Harper Brothers at 18, debuted on Verve at 22, a decade’s-worth of star sideman gigs. All of that hang-time paid off with his 1998 recording The Challenge on Arabesque Records. Penning six of the compositions, selecting an inspired posse of young ringers (Ron Blake, tenor sax; Stephen Scott, piano; Dwayne Burno, bass; Dion Parsons, drums), Robinson also produced the whole shebang. Robinson also released as a solo artist Justin Time in 1991 with Verve Music Group label. It was produced by Bobby Watson, who also appears on the recording, in addition to Gary Bartz, on alto saxophones, and includes more young ringers of that time: Eddie Henderson – trumpet; Kenny Barron, Stephen Scott – pianos; Peter Washington – bass; Lewis Nash – drums.

student playing drums during lesson

Jazz Institute At The Conservatory

Did you know?

The Jazz Institute at the Conservatory is one of the longest running jazz education programs in the United States and has produced many well-known performers.


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