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Local students to attend Music Matters!
Savannah Music Festival programs promote musical education
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The Savannah Music Festival has become an iconic event for the Coastal region, offering a plethora of music programs to appeal to all ages. On Thursday, Oct. 11, Gene Pinion, the education and program director for the festival, gave an overview of what’s planned for the upcoming event, set to run March 20 to April 5.

"We have become Georgia’s biggest music festival," Pinion said, noting this past year’s event showcased over 500 artists and 109 programs during its 18-day span.

As part of the festival, there is a themed children’s education venue which will run from March 24 to April 4, including attendance from a number of Bryan County students.

"This is one of the things I love to do through the SMF – we present a series of 10 concerts, at no charge, for school children. Every year we call the program something different; this year that theme is ‘Music Matters!’" Pinion said, noting he’s been in charge of the program for four years.

Pinion said even though the festival is six months away, there are over 16,000 students that have signed up from seven counties, including Bryan County.

"We went last year, fourteen classes all together, and we absolutely loved it," said Carver Elementary school Principal Joye Johnson. "This year, I’ll be sending about 350 students. All fifth grade classes will be going on different days. This is a great musical program for them to participate in."

The Music Matters! 2008 series, sponsored by Gulfstream, includes programs of musical storytelling, musical chairs, singalongs and a rendition of The Pied Piper, among many others.

Additionally, after two years of hosting a regional high school jazz band workshop, the SMF has announced its first annual "Swing Central" High School Jazz Band Competition and Workshop for 2008.

Along with three days of workshops with some of the nation’s renowned jazz educators, this year’s program invites bands countrywide to Savannah to participate in clinics and performances.

Any high school jazz band is encouraged to apply; the deadline is Dec. 15 and the application can be found on the web at

"The SMF brings music from the world of symphonic, classical, to chamber music, country, blue grass, to rock’n’roll, to world music from India, Africa, the Caribbean – it’s really a uniquely diverse festival. There aren’t many music festivals of its nature in the world."

Next Wednesday, Oct. 24, will be the official announcement of the festival’s program and artists. The announcement will take place at the American Legion Post 135 on Bull Street in Savannah, followed by two sets of Cajun/swing music from Louisiana’s Red Stick Ramblers. Tickets to the 7:15 p.m. show are $10, available at the door. Tickets for the 2008 festival will be on sale starting Oct. 25. For more information, call 912.234.3378.

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