Madison group selected for Chinese tour
Madison Jazz has been selected by the U.S. – China Cultural and Educational Foundation to represent the United States on an 18-day, multi-city performance tour in China next summer.
The invitation was issued last week by Gov. Bob Riley based on the ensemble’s reputation for excellence and is the first invitation ever issued to any group in the State of Alabama. The program has the full support of the Chinese Central and Provincial governments, and the tour will be subsidized in part by Chinese governmental, educational, and cultural entities.
In the letter of invitation, Dr. Song Yang, vice chairman of the Foundation, wrote, “We are excited that the general public and our community of serious musicians will have the opportunity to hear the musical artistry that Madison Jazz has proven to provide. We also want your ensemble to experience China’s culture and traditions in a meaningful way. Our programs continually strive to build bridges of understanding between the United States of America and the People’s Republic of China through wonderful musical ensembles like Madison Jazz, and it is our hope that the Foundation’s activities will enhance the unification of our great countries.”
Riley made the announcement during his annual address to the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce. He said, “The State of Alabama congratulates Madison Jazz on its invitation to represent our state and our nation. This exceptional group of young people will showcase the excellence in education we have in Alabama, and we are proud of them for sharing their incredible talent with the people of China.”
Dr. David Romines, a member of the Board of Directors from the U.S. – China Cultural and Educational Foundation traveled to Huntsville for the announcement. He said, “The Foundation is so pleased that Madison Jazz has accepted the invitation for our program. These young people will be a model for student jazz programs that are just beginning to emerge in China. It will be an incredibly positive experience both for Madison Jazz and for the Chinese people.”
Under the direction of Johnny Nash, Madison Jazz began in 2003 and is a group of exceptional young musicians ranging in age from ninth grade through college. All ensemble members have been a part of winning national championships in jazz competitions for many years while at Discovery Middle School which is in the Madison City School System.
For more than seven years, its members have played multiple corporate and private functions, been featured at concerts in the park, served as entertainment for fundraising and organizational events, and made many other appearances. They have toured twice to Washington, D.C. and New York City playing venues such as the United Nations, Grace Plaza at Times Square, Trump Tower, the U.S.S. Intrepid, and military installations.
While in China, the ensemble will play concerts in a number of cities in China during the upcoming tour and will also visit several schools and hold jazz clinics with Chinese students to share their musical expertise. They will also interact with other musical groups and experience Chinese culture while visiting the famous sites and traveling throughout the country.
Madison Mayor Paul Finley assisted with the announcement activities and said, “The City of Madison could not be more delighted that Madison Jazz has been selected for this incredible honor. We have always known how talented these young people are, and we are thrilled that they will be ambassadors of music and culture for Madison, for Alabama, and for the United States.”
Dr. Dee Fowler, Superintendent of Madison City Schools, also attended the announcement and commented, “The students of Madison Jazz will represent our community in the very best manner possible. Through Madison Jazz, the Chinese people will be able to experience a part of our excellence in education. “
The group will spend the next several months rehearsing and staging the show that will tour China.
They will also be raising funds to help with the cost of the production and travel, and will give several performances as they prepare their concert tour.