Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival 2020 will be "a digital celebration" | Music | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival 2020 will be "a digital celebration"

click to enlarge Sean Jones - PHOTO: JIMMY KATZ
Photo: Jimmy Katz
Sean Jones
This June marks what would have been the 10th anniversary of the Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival (PIJF). But with the date approaching and large in-person gatherings uncertain, the August Wilson African American Cultural Center (AWAACC) has moved the event online, announcing it as the first-ever Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival Live Online.

The free event will take place starting at 12 p.m. on Sat., June 20, and stream live on AWAACC's website and Facebook page.

Curated by AWAACC president and CEO Janis Burley Wilson — who created the festival in 2011 — and in collaboration with award-winning musician Sean Jones, Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival Live Online will feature legendary jazz musicians from around the world, including Jones, Dianne Reeves, The Bad Plus, Laurin Talese, Jeff Watts, Brett Williams, Lekecia Benjamin, and more. There will be a live performance by Pittsburgh artists, special tributes, and a look back at archival interviews and footage from the festival’s first 10 years.

"The Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival has become a hallmark of our city and a beacon for some of the world’s greatest musicians over the past 10 years," says Wilson in a press release. "I’m immensely grateful to our sponsors, Sean Jones and the rest of the incredible artists, for joining forces to create a digital celebration and bring jazz directly to audiences around the world. One of music’s biggest strengths is its power to heal and bring people together, and it is more vital than ever to connect with one another while collectively protecting ourselves and our community.

"Although this is not how we envisioned celebrating the festival’s 10th anniversary, it’s an opportunity to expand our annual audience of 70,000 visitors to downtown Pittsburgh, and I hope that it brings comfort and reminds us all that there are brighter days ahead."


The AWAACC has also launched $10 for the next 10 Years of PIJF, a campaign to commemorate the past 10 years of the PIJF and to support the next 10 years of the festival. Contributions will be accepted online during the virtual festival and after, leading up to the 2021 in-person festival.

To further jazz knowledge, in addition to Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival Live Online, AWAACC has launched several additional free digital initiatives for audiences of all ages. These include virtual tours of its two most recent visual arts exhibitions: Vanishing Black Bars & Lounges: Photographs by L. Kasimu Harris and I came by Boat so Meet me at the Beach from Ayana M. Evans and Tsedaye Makonnen; and a monthly conversation series, Lit Fridays, featuring artists, actors, writers, and scholars streamed on their Facebook page. 

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