An expression of freedom
Today, 30 April, is International Jazz Day, an event that is being celebrated in over 190 countries around the world. This year’s Global Host City is Saint Petersburg, Russian Federation. The city and jazz have a long tradition: Jazz has been played in Saint Petersburg since 1927, when Russia's First Concert Jazz Band was founded. Just two years later, the city saw the creation of the first jazz collective. Saint Petersburg is also the only city in Russia to have a Jazz Philharmonic Hall, founded in 1989.
A series of educational and outreach programmes will take place in the Global Host City, where the day will culminate in a star-studded concert at the historic Mariinsky Theatre, an event which will be streamed live worldwide. Nearly three dozen acclaimed artists representing 14 countries will be on the stage, including UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Herbie Hancock.
UNESCO in coordination with the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz established International Jazz Day in 2011. The event recognises the role of jazz in promoting freedom, creativity and intercultural dialogue, and uniting people from all corners of the globe. In her statement for the day, UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay stressed the connection between jazz and freedom movements: "The message for freedom is rooted at the very core of this music, which is defined by improvisation. The ability for musicians to come together and listen, play and exchange artistry through this free-flowing expression reflects the spirit of freedom movements across the world."
Following Saint Petersburg is Sydney, Australia, as the 2019 Global Host City of International Jazz Day. The All-Star Global Concert will be performed in the Sydney Opera House, a UNESCO World Heritage site.