8 June 2023

Return of annual festival set to jazz up Merimbula this long weekend

| Claire Sams
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Jazz musicians

Jazz musicians and singers will once again flock to Merimbula over the long weekend for the annual festival. Photo: Merimbula Jazz Festival/Facebook.

Cherie Glanville first heard about the Merimbula Jazz Festival more than two decades ago when she was a jazz vocalist living in Melbourne with her own band. Now, she’s stepping into the role of the festival’s first female president in its history as it returns this weekend (9-12 June).

Ms Glanville said her years-long love of the event first started in 1998: “Someone said to me, ‘Why don’t you come up to Merimbula? It’s the best way to meet jazz musicians from all around Australia’.”

Six months ago, she stepped into the leading role to organise the festival after the passing of Kevin and Aileen Walsh, who had served as president and secretary for many years.

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Ms Glanville said this year’s program will feature performers across a range of styles including ragtime, mainstream, traditional, modern, big band and more.

“For this year, we’re going to put on most of the things in place that were there last year, except for the parade,” Ms Glanville said.

“Instead, we are going to have a festival opening at Spencer Park, and we’ve got a mini-parade as a tribute to the traditional parade, along with amazing music.

There will be 510 musicians and 100 bands coming to Merimbula to entertain the gathered crowds across several venues.

This year was also the first time the organisers used an online method to sell tickets. “We had to evolve, we had to move forward and try something new,” Ms Glanville said. “The response had been fantastic from the online sales.”

Though online ticket sales had closed, tickets can be purchased in person from the Jazz Office, located in the Community Hub in Market Street, from 9 am on Thursday (8 June).

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“It’s this incredible event, where musicians travel from all across Australia to come and catch up with their musician mates and friends that they’ve known for years.”

“Everybody is there to listen to the jazz, so it really is quite a special occasion from a musician’s point of view,” Ms Glanville said.

Though organising the festival has been a lot of hard work, Ms Glanville said the community had been pulling together.

“It takes a village to pull this off,” she said.

“As a volunteer organisation – which we are and always have been for 40 years – that would have meant that the festival could not go ahead if we didn’t have the volunteers. For me that would have been an absolute tragedy.”

“I’ve got some wonderful new committee members with me and some of the former committee have been absolute treasures and offering their advice,” she said. “We’ve got amazing business support as well.”

The Merimbula Jazz Festival will take place from Friday 9 June to Sunday 12 June at locations in Merimbula. The full program is available on the festival’s website.

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