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GEMS American Academy – Abu Dhabi enjoyed an interactive workshop led by the American Jazz icon Wynton Marsalis on 23 March 2017. The Wynton Marsalis Septet were among the headline artists that performed at the Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Festival on the 27th March. Whilst in the UAE, Wynton offered to visit the music students at GEMS American Academy.

An audience of 450 people were captivated as Wynton introduced concepts of jazz music through demonstration and audience participation. He was joined by two of his students from The Julliard School and invited GEMS American Academy’s Hunter Keith to the stage with his instrument for the first hour of the workshop.

In addition to performing for the students and talking about music, Wynton and members of his ensemble spent some time working with the GEMS American Academy Big Band as they showcased some of their current repertoire. This was an incredible opportunity to learn from an internationally acclaimed musician, composer, bandleader, educator and leading advocate for American culture.

Dave Holland, Secondary School Music Director at GEMS American Academy said: “We are delighted to host such an inspirational individual at GAA and thank Wynton for recognizing our commitment to jazz education. This is a huge milestone as we continue to promote GEMS American Academy as a centre of excellence for the Arts in Abu Dhabi.”

Students at GEMS American Academy were delighted to be joined by several music students from our GEMS network and other schools across the UAE for this event.

Wynton Marsalis is a nine-time Grammy Award winner and the only person to achieve five consecutive awards (between 1983-1987). He has produced over 80 albums that span the jazz and classical sphere and has been awarded 25 honorary degrees from America’s leading academic institutions including Columbia, Harvard, Howard, Princeton and Yale.

In 1987, Wynton co-founded the jazz program at the Lincoln Centre in New York. He currently serves as Manager and Artistic Director for the established Jazz at the Lincoln Centre, which has become a mecca for learning as well as a hub for performance.

In 2016, music students from GAA visited the Emirates Palace to watch an open rehearsal with the Orchestre de Paris under a similar initiative.

Wynton Marsalis at GEMS American Academy.

– GEMS Education