Ventura Music Festival

VMF youth programs for 2017 include:

  • VMF’s Music in the Schools program, which will serve upwards of 4,000 elementary school children in both school and after-school settings. (Including Casa Pacifica and Boys & Girls Clubs)
  • The Student Jazz Competition on January 22nd.
  • A special Rising Stars concert in May to be offered free of charge featuring outstanding choral singers and classical musicians along with the 2017 Student Jazz Competition winner.
  • The VMF Young Artist’s Fund underwrites the parcipation of young musicians throughout the year, including local talent for whom the Festival appearance is a professional debut and several who have gone on to careers in concert halls that span the globe.
  • Free or heavily discounted tickets for all 2017 Festival concerts.

2017 Sponsors include:

  • Aera Energy LLC
  • Edward Arkin
  • Harmony Music Center
  • Pierpont Inn
Student Jazz Competition
  1. Contestants must be high school age and live in Southern California. One entry per person.
  2. Register by completing the Student Jazz Competition 2018 Form.
  3. Record the jazz or blues tune of your choice, featuring an improvised solo over two choruses, and send file to: Files must be MP3 or M4A format. Submissions can be jazz or blues classics, anything you feel comfortable playing.
  4. Judges will select five (5) finalists to compete on Sunday, January 21, 2018.

For more information, email:
or call Lacey at 805-648-3146

Previous Contests

10th Annual

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Ventura Music Festival presented the
8th Annual Student Jazz Competition
on Sunday, January 26, 2014, 3:00 pm
at the Pierpont Inn

Congratulations to this year’s winner:
Eric Shechter of Newbury Park High School!

The contest’s runner-up was bass violinist Sean Riddle, of Ventura High School. Trumpeter Ryan Kurahara of school placed third. One of the highlights of the competition was an impromptu jam with all three contestants playing with drummer Charles Levin.

Here’s winner Eric Shechter with friends:

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Ventura Music Festival presented the
7th Annual Student Jazz Competition
on Sunday, January 13, 2013, 3:00 pm
at Zoey’s Cafe

Congratulations to this year's winner:
Jade Elliott of Westlake High School!
She won with an alto sax rendition of “Sunny Side of the Street.”

The contest’s runner-up was drummer Alex Smith, also of Westlake High School. Pianist Eric Shechter of Newbury Park, alto saxophonist Gilbert Bao of Agoura Hills, and pianist Zachary Hernandez of Ventura also gave strong performances.

Here’s 2013 winner Jade Elliott on stage with Tito Puente Jr. and his band on February 16, 2013 at Ventura High School:

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2011 Ventura Music Festival Student Jazz Competition Winner at Live Concert

Rachel Flowers, a 17-year-old pianist from Oxnard, took top prize at Ventura Music Festival’s 2011 Student Jazz Competition. Flowers was chosen during a live concert performance that took place on Sunday, January 16, 2011 at Ventura’s Laurel Theater.

Flowers, a Hueneme High School junior, earned top honors for her passionate rendition of John Coltrane’s “Naima” on the piano. Blind since birth, Flowers began playing the piano at the age of 2 and learns by listening. A highly gifted musical prodigy, Flowers placed second in the 2010 VMF student competition.

Accompanied by Coda, a Ventura-based jazz trio, each competitor played one song before an audience of family, friends and a 3-person judging panel of professional musicians. Judges were jazz and classical pianist Jonathan Cooper, film score producer Eddie Arkin, and Paul Anka Orchestra lead trombonist, Craig Woods.

Flowers was awarded a $500 scholarship and the opportunity to perform on stage with legendary Cuban jazz trumpeter Arturo Sandoval at the Festival's upcoming Latin jazz concert on Feb. 12 at Seaside Park.

The other finalists included:
2nd place: Jacob Scesney, 18, alto saxophonist from Ojai
3rd place: Tanner Dawson, 17, tenor saxophonist from Moorpark

The other contestants included:
Sara Sithi-Amnuai, flugelhorn player from Laguna Nigel
Cory Smith, 16, drummer from Thousand Oaks

VMF logo art



Julia Campbell & Ben Namba
Freddie & Al Contarino
Janet & Mark Goldenson
Hammer-Hewson Associates
and Shirley & Steve Simms
Jordan Laby
Barbara Meister

Dr. Peter Cannon
City of Ventura
Celine Gillibrand for P.W. Gillibrand Co.
Montecito Bank & Trust
Schwab Charitable Fund
Smith-Hobson Fund
Miriam Wille

Gloisten Family Charitable Foundation
Pierpont Racquet Club

E.J. Harrison & Sons
Joseph P. Reardon Funeral
Home & Cremation Service

Limoneira & Limco Del Mar

Aera Energy LLC
(for Music in the Schools)
Arianna Ashkar, Brett Ashkar,
John Ashkar & Family

Community Memorial Health System
Halter-Encinas Enterprises
Julius Gius Memorial Rotary Foundation (for Music in the Schools)
Dr. Richard & Lori Reisman
The Arts Collaborative