Join professional jazz artists and clinicians for a non-competitive educational jazz festival during the Fred Sturm Jazz Celebration Weekend!

The goal of the Fred Sturm Jazz Celebration Weekend is to create a low-pressure clinic environment and provide an inspirational boost at the start of the school year through extended ensemble workshops with renowned clinicians, a special focus on improvisation, an absence of ratings and trophies, and a world-class list of professional jazz artists.

For the 2024 festival, we are honored to feature visiting artists René Marie Quartet and Sean Jones Quartet at our Friday and Saturday evening concerts! We are excited to welcome the wider Appleton community to the festival and have an exciting schedule of events planned.

The weekend’s full schedule including clinics, jazz combo performances, and visiting artists’ concert information.

Sean Jones Quartet profile

Visiting Artists & Clinicians

This year, clinicians from Tennessee, Indiana, and Louisiana will join the festival faculty. And we are excited to have visiting artists René Marie Quartet and Sean Jones Quartet perform at our Friday and Saturday evening concerts!

Bring your instrumental big band or combo to work with one of our clinicians. We encourage directors of groups from all types of schools to register! Give your students the opportunity to learn a jazz composition totally by ear, focus on improvisational sections of charts, and work on strengthening group interaction skills. Our clinicians will work with your groups on a selection of your choice as well as improvisation and aural training!

Ticket & Registration Information

For questions about clinic reservation, from or about directors, clinicians, educational events, and commissioned composer details please contact Patty Darling.

For all questions about concerts and ticketing please email Jillian Johnson or contact the Lawrence University Box Office.

Mailing Address:

Lawrence Conservatory of Music
Attn: Jazz Weekend
711 East Boldt Way
Appleton, WI 54911-5626

Black man and white women stand next to eachother on white wall wearing black outfits with t-shirts with white writing.
Patty Darling ’85 & José Encarnación - Co-Organizers of Jazz Weekend  

A Brief History

Lawrence Jazz Weekend began in 1981 to:

  • Bring renowned professional jazz artists to the Lawrence campus
  • Establish a 100% non-competitive educational jazz festival
  • Provide an inspirational jump-start for school jazz groups
  • Promote improvisation as a primary focus in school jazz ensembles

Jazz Celebration Weekend was a manifestation of Fred’s passion for sharing his love of jazz and was started in as a testament to Fred’s belief that a jazz festival is not about competition, but rather about coming together to celebrate and share the beauty and art of jazz.

The 1981 festival attracted 125 students from 8 Fox Valley high school ensembles. With Steve Houghton, Leon Breeden, and Buddy Baker as the visiting artists.

Fred Sturm sitting in an audience seat in an empty auditorium
Fred Sturm ’73 (1951-2014)

Fred Sturm ’73, was the heart and soul of jazz during his time at Lawrence. As a 19-year-old sophomore, Sturm formed the Lawrence conservatory of music’s first-ever jazz ensemble, which in turn became a catalyst for the creation of the jazz studies department. He later returned to Lawrence and in total spent 26 years as a member of the conservatory faculty.

A trombone player and a pianist play while a man leans on the paino.
Fred Sturm coaching a jazz combo in 1981. Left to right: Bob Braun ’84, Connie Trok ’82, and Fred Sturm ’73. Image from Lawrence University Archives.

Fred’s legacy is one of an award-winning composer, nationally recognized jazz educator and beloved mentor to hundreds, if not thousands, of aspiring musicians. Fred, we will miss your booming laugh, your bear hugs, the twinkle in your eyes, and your amazing ability to help us reach higher than we ever thought possible. Your spirit lives on in all of us.

In 2015 the weekend was renamed The Fred Sturm Jazz Celebration Weekend in honor of his devotion to sharing the gift of jazz with everyone.

In Memory of Fred Sturm

Fred Sturm Jazz Celebration Weekend 2015