Jazz Festival

Jazz Festival Band

Annual Jazz Concert

Each year at the end of January, the Music Department presents the annual University of Mary Jazz Festival – bringing hundreds of students from across the region to campus. Over the years, our ensembles have shared the stage with world-renowned guest artists, including Jeff Coffin, Don Ellis, Jon Faddis, Kevin Mahogany, Tom "Bones" Malone, Bob Mintzer, Terrell Stafford, Nestor Torez, Bill Watrous, Kenny Werner, and The New York Voices. Bringing artists to campus allows our student musicians the opportunity to perform alongside and learn from some of the world's best jazz performers and educators.

The University of Mary Jazz Festival was founded in 1974 by Ernie Borr. It has become an honored tradition for the University of Mary Music Department and the Bismarck/Mandan community. We invite the public to attend any of the participating schools' performances.

Annual Jazz Festival: January 26-27, 2024

Jazz Festival Performing Ensembles

Each ensemble will be scheduled to perform for one half-hour on stage in front of our panel of judges. After performing, the ensemble will move to a separate room for one half-hour educational session with their assigned.

Equipment Provided

Instrument Group

The University of Mary Music Department provides the following equipment: trap set, piano, amps for guitar and bass, vibraphone, chairs, and stands. (larger groups may need to share stands for more than one student)

Vocal Group

The University of Mary Music Department provides the following equipment: 16 plugin mixing boards, piano, cords for mics, trap set, and amps for guitar and bass.

Aimee Nolte

Aimee Nolte is a jazz pianist, vocalist, and educator who has made a name for herself with her extensive YouTube channel, which boasts nearly a thousand educational and entertaining videos! With over 270,000 subscribers, Aimee is in high demand as a clinician and performer. She just returned from teaching at Victor Wooten's Theory Camp in Tennessee and is thrilled to be at the University of Mary again!

Scott Agster

Dr. Scott Agster has spent nearly 20 years in higher education, having served as Assistant Ensemble Department Head at McNally Smith College of Music, Adjunct Professor of Low Brass at Southeastern Oklahoma State University, and Adjunct Professor of Low Brass and Jazz Band at Concordia University. In addition to offering private brass lessons at Breck School and Mount Olivet School of Music, he currently teaches Applied Low Brass, World Music, and Intro to Music Technology at Anoka Ramsey Community College; Applied Low Brass, Music Appreciation, and Music Theory at Augsburg University; and Improvisation and Jazz History at Normandale Community College. 

Adam Meckler

Adam Meckler is a trumpeter, composer, educator, and entrepreneur living in Michigan, where he is the Director of Jazz Studies at Michigan Technological University. He is an Edwards Instrument Co. performing artist and clinician and has toured and recorded with Youngblood Brass Band, Cory Wong, Dave Koz, Steve Cole, The Hornheads, Nooky Jones, and many others. Meckler's Adam Meckler Orchestra has released four albums to date, including their 2014 album When the Clouds Look Like This, which iTunes listed as one of the best jazz releases of 2014, and their 2018 album Magnificent Madness, which included collaborations with Hip Hop artists and soul singers. Meckler's music is "a thrillingly contemporary update of the jazz big band that both embodies Meckler's musical generation and showcases his singular vision (not to mention his masterfully expressive trumpet playing)." - Evan Haga (Jazz Times)

Bob Peske

Robert T. "Bubba" Peske, a Christian guitarist born and raised in Bismarck, ND, has been a professional musician for over fifty years. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Guitar Performance & Instrumental Education from the U of Minnesota, Moorhead. He earned a Technical Guitar Performance degree from the Musician's Institute of Technology (GIT) in Los Angeles, CA, and a Master of Education from UND in Grand Forks, ND. He taught in the Bismarck Public Schools, teaching grades 6 - 12 instrumental music. He was also an adjunct professor of guitar, music technologies, and secondary instrumental music education at the University of Mary. He hosted multiple student teachers during his teaching career in Bismarck (including our own Dr. Brian Lydeen). During that time, he made two appearances at the U Mary Jazz Festival and performed as a guest artist with the U Mary Jazz Band at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Montreux, Switzerland. In 2001, he resigned from the Bismarck Public Schools and served as Director of Worship and Music at Charity Lutheran Church, Bismarck. In 2012, he returned to Bismarck High School as the band director until he retired from education in 2020. He is a worship leader at Inspire Family Fellowship in Bismarck, ND. He and his wife Pam of 44 years have two wonderful sons, two beautiful daughters-in-law, and four marvelous grandchildren.

Greg Yasinitsky

Greg Yasinitsky, composer and saxophonist, is the American Prize for Composition winner and is a recipient of grants and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, The Commission Project, Artist Trust, and ASCAP. He served as the composer and conductor of the Jazz Education Network All Stars Big Band, which included some of the most acclaimed musicians in the world, and has written music, especially for David Sanborn, Sean Jones, Clark Terry, Jeff Coffin, Dave Liebman and the USAF "Airmen of Note" big band. Yasinitsky has hundreds of published musical works performed in over 40 countries worldwide, and his compositions and saxophone playing are featured on over 50 recordings. Yasinitsky has performed with Randy Brecker, Marcus Printup, Tom Harrell, Ed Calle, Alex Acuna, Kirk Whalum, Claudio Roditi, Conrad Herwig, Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, Ray Charles, Louis Bellson, Stan Getz, Lionel Hampton, Lou Rawls, Manhattan Transfer, and many others. Yasinitsky is a member of the Washington State Music Educators Hall of Fame and is a Regents Professor Emeritus at Washington State University, where he taught jazz studies, saxophone, and composition for 40 years, received the WSU Eminent Faculty Award, the Sahlin Faculty Excellence Award for Research, Scholarship, and Arts, and the Distinguished Faculty Award from the College of Arts and Sciences. Yasinitsky is a Yamaha performing artist and a JodyJazz Artist.

Kirk Maracy

Kirk Marcy is a Summa Cum Laude graduate of the University of Northern Colorado. He began teaching in 1983 at Lake Washington High School in Kirkland, Washington. 1987, he joined the Four Freshmen, singing and playing keyboards and brass. In 1988, Kirk returned to the Pacific Northwest to become the Director of Choirs at Edmonds College.
2008, Kirk was inducted into the Washington Music Educators Association Hall of Fame. In 2013, he received Edmonds College's "Excellence in Education Award" for outstanding teaching. Kirk was selected as the 2017 Washington Interscholastic Activities Association's Music Educator of the Year. 2024 marks his 36th year at the college. 

Kirk has been honored to conduct All-State Choirs in fifteen states and served as guest conductor of the 2014 ACDA Northwest Division Honor Jazz Choir. He is in demand as a clinician and adjudicator at choral and vocal jazz festivals throughout the United States and Canada. Kirk has served as ACDA National Vocal Jazz Repertoire & Standards Chair and continues to serve as the manager for the WMEA All-State Jazz Choir, a position he has held since 1990.
Kirk's choral and jazz compositions and arrangements are published through UNC Jazz Press, Walton, and Anchor Music Publications, and he recently formed his own publishing company, Kirk Marcy Music. 

The Jazz Festival Through the Ages

Have Questions?

Call the Music Department at 701-355-8301 or email us.