Student musicians impressed the judges with their musical skills and maturity


Five finalists playing as a band at VMF jazz competition after the judging.

Ventura Music Festival held their 10th annual Student Jazz Competition at the Wyndham Garden Ventura Pierpont Inn filling the Ventura coastal air with groove and swing.

The five finalists (many talented students entered the competition) gathered and showed off their best Jazz solos in front of an eager audience and judges waiting to hear these young emerging musicians, from those who hope to join the best bassists in the world to those readying for classical careers. The stakes were not only bragging rights, but also cash prizes of $500, $250 and $100 for 1st, 2nd and 3rd respectively. The contestants ranged in age from 14 to 18 years old and played a variety of musical instruments.

Each musician was backed up by the local band Coda, named after a term used in music primarily to designate a passage that brings a piece to an end, featuring Bevan Manson, Tom Etchart and Charles Levin. Charles is also a former Board Member of the Ventura Music Festival.

The judge’s decision was first place going to Blake Kasting, a guitarist and senior from Ventura High School. Second place went to trombone player Max Fourmy a high school senior from Santa Barbara’s Alta Vista High. Third place went to Henry Urschel an alto sax freshman attending Dos Pueblos High in Santa Barbara. Honorable mentions went to Chris Seagraves, a Junior from Moorpark High School and Matthew Michalek a sophomore from Thousand Oaks High School.

The Ventura Music Festival presents classical, jazz, popular music and family concerts in a variety of venues in Ventura, and educational outreach programs. This year the music festival has moved from April to July. Founded in 1994, the Ventura Music Festival is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

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