Transforming Communities

Schools set to swing as city warms up for City of Derry Jazz Festival with Live Music Now

Local schools will be swinging this month, to the sound of all that jazz as the City of Derry Jazz and Big Band Festival’s Live Music Now programme gets underway.

The programme engages thousands of children each year in the build up to Ireland’s biggest jazz celebration with a series of workshops teaching them about the magic of live performance.

This year between March and May post primary schools will be getting involved in the popular ‘jazz labs’ delivered by Live Music Now NI musicians: renowned jazz pianist John Leighton and singer / saxophonist Meilana Gillard, as well as acclaimed local singer Victoria Geelan and pianist Neil Burns.

Over 1,200 pupils from eight schools will enjoy a fun introduction to jazz through the interactive sessions featuring familiar jazz standards and improvisation techniques.

For the first time pupils who are part of established School Jazz Bands at a number of schools will have an exclusive opportunity to work closely with acclaimed jazz musicians through a four-week series of masterclasses. These will culminate in a ‘mini jazz festival in school’ with performances from students and Live Music Now musicians.

Looking ahead to the programme, Mayor of Derry and Strabane, Councillor Patricia Logue, said it was fantastic to see the jazz legacy being passed on to new generations. “The Jazz Festival is one of the city’s most iconic events and part of its attraction is that it appeals to people of all ages,” she explained.

“The Live Music Now programme gives young people the opportunity to learn more about music they may not be familiar with, and encourages them to broaden their playlist to include some of the greatest jazz artists. I look forward to seeing lots of our young people taking part in the festival this year.” – Mayor of Derry and Strabane, Councillor Patricia Logue

The City of Derry Jazz Festival is organised by Derry City and Strabane District Council with support from Diageo and Visit Derry. A big priority for the festival is its outreach programme involving local young people and providing opportunities for new talent to develop, as Festival Coordinator Andrea Campbell explained. “Over the years we have been working with Live Music Now to engage with local schools to give them the opportunity to work with some of the best local musicians and find out more about live performance. We always have a brilliant response and it’s fantastic to see jazz music filtering down to a new generation.

“The festival provides a platform for young musicians to learn from some amazing mentors as well as show off their own talents, which will hopefully inspire them to go on to follow musical pathways. It’s an amazing legacy and it’s what that Jazz Festival is all about – bringing people together through music.” – Festival Coordinator, Andrea Campbell

Alice Lewis, Live Music Now Director, Northern Ireland, said: “Since 2017 Live Music Now has brought jazz to over 12,000 children and young people across the Derry City and Strabane District Council area through the Festival’s outreach programme. This year represents an exciting new development as our professional musicians deliver two four-week masterclass series working with their established jazz bands. We recognise the wealth of talent in our young people and look forward to inspiring the next generation of jazz artists.”

Among the schools taking part in the programme are Lisneal College, Lumen Christi College, St Columb’s College, St Cecilia’s College, St Patrick’s & St Brigid’s College, Holy Cross College and Strabane Academy.

Tens of thousands of people are expected to flock to this year’s City of Derry Jazz and Big Band Festival which takes place over the May Bank Holiday weekend, from 2nd – 6th May.

Details of this year’s programme will be revealed in the coming weeks, and you can find out more on For regular updates follow the festival on Facebook, Instagram or X @derryjazzfest.

The Cut of Her Cloth

New music inspired by women leaders of Medway, created with local people This two-year project run by Intra Arts and Live Music Now, celebrates ten

Read More »