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Festival History

kinser_thomas.jpg Dr. Thomas Kinser

Festival Named in honor of respected instructor & jazz promoter.


The Casper College Kinser Jazz Festival is named for the late Dr. Thomas Kinser, who founded the festival and promoted jazz as a standard component of music study in Wyoming. In 1967, the festival hosted three ensembles. Today, the festival has grown to accommodate more than 50 vocal and instrumental ensembles, with regional junior high schools, middle schools, and high schools participating. It appropriately serves Casper College students, regional public schools, and other supporting organizations.


The main goal of the Kinser Jazz Festival is to educate Wyoming music students. This is accomplished in a variety of settings. Renowned jazz adjudicators listen and evaluate each student ensemble. The clinicians provide written critiques, a rating, and a work session where they strive to improve the students' performances. Regularly scheduled seminars, workshops, and performances are offered to expose the students to even more quality jazz. Finally, an evening concert featuring some of the finest artists in the jazz industry culminates the festival activities. In past years, jazz greats Dizzy Gillespie, Betty Carter, the Count Basie Orchestra, Airto Moreira, Flora Purim, Ellis Marsalis, Clark Terry and others have performed.


The Casper College jazz program has a strong tradition of excellence. The comprehensive program includes courses in jazz improvisation and jazz history, and performing groups such as the Casper College Jazz Ensemble, Casper College Jazz Combos, and the Casper College Contemporary Singers. The core of the curriculum is the jazz improvisation course, which has its roots in traditional music theory, while studying and exploring the styles and practices of modern jazz improvisation. The festival greatly augments the Casper College jazz program, and provides the students listening opportunities rarely found in the area.

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