Dear Friend of the Guelph Jazz Festival

I’m writing with my annual appeal for you to support The Guelph Jazz Festival with a donation or membership. But this year’s letter, I must admit, is rather a difficult one for me to write. For over two decades, I’ve watched the Festival grow from a small community-based event into an uncompromising and award-winning world-class Festival of the very best in jazz and creative improvised music. We’ve been heralded internationally for our unique vision and community spirit, and for the generous and active listening community that has formed around the music. Indeed, so many artists have told me that we have the best audiences anywhere in the world. And for that, we can all be proud!

But here’s the difficult part: at some point in our lives, we have to learn to let go of the things about which we care deeply. Some years ago, in my welcome page to the GJF program, I wrote about how that year’s Festiball, as my daughter Maya used to call it, coincided with Maya going away to university. Hard as it was to believe, I had to acknowledge that Maya, who had grown up with the Festival, was herself now all grown up. That welcome page seemed to resonate with so many members of our audience. And now, with this letter, I need to acknowledge something similar about the Guelph Jazz Festival itself. It is, indeed, all grown up. And the good news is that part of that maturation process has involved a proliferation of other related activity in and beyond our community—much more than I could ever have imagined. Now, it seems, there are so many more opportunities to hear live improvised music and innovative jazz. Now people are flocking to hear avant-garde jazz and improvised music, rather than running away from it. Now improvisation is recognized as more than just a kind of music. Now improvisation is recognized as a field of inquiry and a vital model for community-building.

The field-building and the community-building I’m describing have set something in motion that I couldn’t have predicted when I started dreaming about a jazz festival in Guelph. And herein lies a tale of sustainability, of capacity unleashed through collaboration and innovation. Our city, after all, plays host to a Festival that is internationally lauded as one of Canada’s most vital agents of cultural change.

Needless to say, I feel tremendous pride in all we’ve achieved as we’ve helped to build this field and this community (which is like a family to me). But it is now time for me to let go. After this year’s Festival, I will be retiring from my role as Artistic Director. I hope you will join me in celebrating the incredible achievements we’ve made over the last 23 years.

Please consider renewing or taking out a membership as well as making a generous donation. All donations over $20 will receive a charitable tax receipt. I promise: this is the last time I will be asking for money from you for the Guelph Jazz Festival! The Board is currently exploring how the Festival may evolve after this year, but for now our focus is on celebrating the Festival's rich heritage. Please help me to make my last Festiball as Artistic Director a joyous occasion. Thanks so much for your support, and for spreading the good word about jazz in Guelph.


Ajay Heble
Artistic Director

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