Pleasant Hill Invitational Jazz Festival History

The Pleasant Hill Invitational Jazz Festival (PHIJF) began in 1976  as a simple 'vocal festival'. 

At that time, vocal jazz was just beginning to blossom in the Pacific Northwest and the need for a festival focusing on vocal jazz was becoming apparent. 

The PHIJF was introduced  as both a competition and an educational opportunity, wherein participants listened to numerous choirs and attended clinics, and experienced adjudicators interacted with groups after they performed. 

This was particularly unique in that it was not, at that time, a common practice for adjudicators to work directly with the performers. 

The second year of the PHIJF was the beginning of the instrumental portion of the festival, and, as they say, the rest is history!

The founder of the PHIJF was Jim Steinberger, who directed the festival from 1976 to 1985. 

Mike Wiggins then directed the festival until his death in 1997. 

Camille Noel took over at that time and was Festival Director until her retirement in 2002. 

In 2003 Kris Violette took over as the Festival Director who co-led the festival with Jonathan Light for many years.

Starting in 2017, the current Band director Zac Tendick took on the responsibilities of running the festival.

The festival is now in its fourth decade. From its humble beginnings as a small, local festival that rewarded its participants with chicken lunches and spaghetti dinners, it has evolved into a festival that includes high school students from four states and Canada, with an annual attendance of approximately 2000 participants and guests.

Each year these students, along with their teachers, parents and siblings, come to Pleasant Hill to attend the annual festival and enjoy a variety of clinics and concerts and to listen to the many school bands and choirs who are their peers and with whom they compete.

The Pleasant Hill Invitational Jazz Festival has hosted a number of guest artists who come to entertain and educate. These guests include:

  • Peter Olstad
  • On The Rocks
  • Mike Vax
  • Just-4-Kicks
  • The Trenchcoats
  • Cami Thompson
  • Bobby Shew
  • Shirley Andress
  • Don Lamphere
  • The Kicks Band
  • Swing Shift
  • Meridian
  • The Coats
  • Pleasant Hill All-Star Jazz Band
  • Kim Nazarian
  • Peter Eldridge
  • Horace Young
  • Mark Pender
  • Tony Glausi
  • Siri Vik

Whether it's to participate or just listen to some great music, the PHIJF is a world class event. The hospitality of the Pleasant Hill community adds a charming personal touch that sets it apart as a festival not to be missed.

Come to the Pleasant Hill Jazz Festival!

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