There is no better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day than inviting the people you love to hear great music and support a great cause. That is exactly what the Hastings High School Jazz Band and the First Presbyterian Church of Hastings are doing.

A Feb. 13, jazz concert will feature the Hastings High School Jazz Band, Michigan State University Jazz Octets I and II, as well as nine-time Grammy Award nominated pianist Kenny Barron. The concert will begin at 7 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church (405 N. M-37, Hastings).

fullcolor300We are really excited to have the Michigan State University Jazz Octets perform in Hastings,” said Spencer White, director of bands for Hastings Area Schools. “Having Kenny Barron do a concert here is phenomenal. He’s an international jazz superstar, and we are thrilled to host him.”

Barron is the Michigan State University Federal Credit Union Guest Artist in Residence. He will perform with both Michigan State University Jazz Octets. Barron and the Michigan State University students will spend the afternoon with the Hastings High School Jazz Band, giving them a clinic before the evening performance.

Working with MSU is really cool,” said White. “It’s one of the best schools in the state and the fact that we’re getting this internationally known jazz artist in Hastings is a great opportunity for the students.”

White coordinated the jazz performance with Max Colley, the Jazz Projects and Events Coordinator for the College of Music at Michigan State University. Colley is also White’s high school band teacher from his days at Forrest Hills Northern High School.

It’s really great to be able to work with my own high school band teacher,” said White. “This whole experience is going to be a wonderful opportunity for our jazz band students, and we are thrilled to be able to make it happen.”

Barron has a bachelor of arts degree from Empire State College, and he has been a faculty member at Rutger’s University as a professor of music. He has release more than 40 recordings bringing in nine Grammy nominations beginning in 1992. In 2005 he was inducted into the American Jazz Hall of Fame and won a MAC Lifetime Achievement Award. He is a six-time recipient of Best Pianist by the Jazz Journalists Association and was as a finalist in the prestigious 2001 Jazz Par International Jazz Award.

The concert is free and open to the public. There will be a free will offering to benefit the

Thornapple Arts Council scholarship program.