Ten area high school jazz bands will compete for a chance to be an opening act during the RiverJazz festival in May.

The competition will be part of the first ever SteelStacks Hifgh School Jazz Band Showcase.

The winner will open for Preservation Hall Jazz Band on May 12.

The showcase is presented by ArtsQuest and the Moravian College Music Department.

The 10 bands will compete in two preliminary rounds at the ArtsQuest Center's Musikfest Cafe on Feb. 12 and Feb. 26 at 4 p.m.

Each group will perform a 20-minute set, with the top overall groups advancing to the finals on March 11 at 4 p.m.

Judges for the competition are: head judge Dr. Neil Wetzel, Professor of Music and Director of Jazz Studies at Moravian College; Pat Dorian, Professor of Music at East Stroudsburg University; retired music educators Chuck Dressler and Dave Kenney; and Dr. Eddie Severn, Assistant Professor of Music and Director of Jazz Studies at Lock Haven University.

“There is nothing like this jazz festival happening in the Lehigh Valley on this scale,” says Wetzel. “This is a great opportunity for local jazz students to hear other bands and to be showcased in this manner. The judges are top-notch. Collectively they bring more than 100 years of jazz education experience to the festival. They have been selected for their skill and knowledge of directing jazz groups in high schools, colleges and universities.”

Individual performers will also be honored as awards will be presented for best saxophone/woodwind soloist, best brass soloist, best rhythm soloist and best overall vocalist.

All four best overall soloist award winners will receive a free scholarship to Moravian College’s 2012 Summer Jazz Camp, set for July 9-13 at the college.

In addition, section awards will be presented during the preliminaries and finals for the best reed section, best trumpet section, best trombone section and best rhythm section.

The schedule for the competition is as follows:

Feb. 12, 4 p.m.
Easton Area High School
Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Performing Arts
Saucon Valley High School
Kutztown Area High School

Feb. 26
Boyertown Area Senior High School
Emmaus High School
Freedom High School
Phillipsburg High School
Pocono Mountain East High School
Warren Hills Regional High School

Tickets for the SteelStacks High School Jazz Band Showcase preliminary rounds and finals are $5. They will go on sale Jan. 27, 10 a.m., and will be available at www.artsquest.org and 610-332-3378.