Legendary Band Director Charles Wackerman


Legendary Band Director Charles Wackerman leads OCSA Jazz Ensemble to First Place at the Prestigious Reno Jazz Festival

Following the win, The Jazz Ensemble was invited to open for the

Tom Kubis Big Band on Monday, May 21, at the Gaslamp in Long Beach

Orange County, Calif. – May 3, 2018 – Under the direction of Orange County’s prized band director, Charles Wackerman, the Orange County School of the Arts (OCSA) Jazz Ensemble, comprised primarily of middle-school students, won First Place in the AP1 High School category at the Reno Jazz Festival last weekend (April 26-28). OCSA freshman Gianna Pedregon, violin, also won Outstanding Performer overall. One of the largest and finest events of its kind in the world, the esteemed festival hosts more than 350 groups and 9,000 participants at the University of Nevada, Reno, for three days of competitions and music clinics. Following their win, The Jazz Ensemble received a rare and honored invitation to open for the Tom Kubis Big Band on Monday, May 21, at 7 p.m., at the famous Gaslamp restaurant in Long Beach. At age 87, this was Mr. Wackerman’s 38th trip to the Reno Jazz Festival.

Legendary Band Director Charles Wackerman

“The Reno Jazz Festival attracts the finest bands and educators from across the country, and is one the longest-running jazz festival of its kind,” said Director of Instrumental Music Conservatory Dan St. Marseille. “Students have the opportunity to listen to and interact with their peers and attend master classes presented by major jazz educators and artists. This particular visit was especially rewarding since OCSA middle-school students won First Place in a competition against older and more experienced high-school level ensembles. We are grateful to Charles Wackerman for his excellent teaching and for raising the caliber of our ensemble and program to this new level.”

An acclaimed music educator, Mr. Wackerman has been teaching in The Garn Family Jazz Studies Program at OCSA since Spring 2016. Previously, he was a teacher and director of instrumental music in the Los Alamitos and Seal Beach districts for more than 50 years. During this time, he directed the jazz bands and jazz combos for Orange County School of the Arts, when it was located on the Los Alamitos High School Campus. He has been awarded the Irene Schoepfle Lifetime Achievement Award for Outstanding Contributions to Music Education in Orange County, Educator of the Year from Fullerton Jazz Festival, and Educator of the Year from K-JAZZ and the Bob Cole Conservatory of Music at CSULB. He has also been inducted into the California Alliance for Jazz Hall of Fame and was honored at the Seal Beach Founders Day Ceremony. In 2012 he was awarded for Outstanding Contribution to Education by the Orange County Board of Education.

“It is very special to have Mr. Wackerman working with our students, because he represents a lifetime of experience and knowledge,” continues St. Marseille. “This man is incredible. He’s such a humble person, and so willing to mentor me and the other teachers in the Jazz program.  The students adore him. His love of music is broad-reaching and is reflected in his mentorship to his own children – all four of his sons are professional musicians at the top of their field.”

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