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Celebrating Head of Jazz, Paula Gardiner

At this year’s AmserJazzTime festival we’ll be blasting our jazz trumpets in a grateful fanfare to our wonderful head of jazz Paula Gardiner, who leaves us after nearly 23 years at the College.
‘As Welsh jazz musicians our communal debt and thanks to Paula for her creative output and for being Head of Jazz at RWCMD for the last twenty years is immense.
Diolch Paula!’
Tomos WilliamsRWCMD grad, jazz musician and composer

From 1st- 4th June an all-star AmserJazzTime festival line-up will celebrate Paula’s legacy, with some of the UK’s most exciting artists, and graduates of Paula’s RWCMD jazz course, coming back to the College, with Rebecca Nash, Chris Hyson and Tomos Williams among others.

Celebrating Paula

'Paula Gardiner and the Jazz course at RWCMD made a huge impact on my life. She ran the course with patience, positivity and gave us the students the space to figure out what kind of musicians we wanted to be.

I have so many great memories of my time there. Thanks Paula, you will be missed!’
Chris HysonJazz grad, musician and composer

Pianist, composer and fellow grad Rebecca Nash adds, ‘When I look back at my time spent studying at RWCMD, I think of Paula as being a highlight, a linchpin of the jazz course, and a huge inspiration – not just to me, but to everyone.'

Pianist Rebecca Nash returns to RWCMD to perform as part of the festival

'I’ll never forget her serious commitment to serving the music no matter what. Her passion and nurturing of each student’s individual musical voice is such a huge strength of the RWCMD jazz course and it has played a massive part in its success. I feel immensely proud to be a part of the jazz community that she created.'

'What a remarkable contribution Paula has made to the UK jazz scene throughout her time at RWCMD – she is an absolute tour de force!

Wishing you all the best in this next chapter.’
Rebecca NashPianist, composer and RWCMD grad

In her own words

We caught up with Paula, to try and capture what it’s meant to her to share her love of jazz with so many talented students over the last two decades:

‘I have spent a wonderful 22 and a half years at RWCMD, bearing the best job title in the land – Head of Jazz/Pennaeth Jazz!’ she said.

‘Actually, way back in 2001 when I started ‘my first’ job, I was jazz coordinator and one of my early tasks was to create a jazz curriculum within the undergrad programme.

It’s hard to imagine those days now. There wasn’t a department, just a handful of students keen on playing this music.

Now, RWCMD jazz graduates are all over the world, in places as far flung as Colombia, Sydney, Shanghai, London and Cardiff!

AmserJazz Time, Summer 2022
'All these years later I remember what it was that inspired me to take up the post – it was the students of course.

It’s the most inspiring privilege to keep the company of young creators, constantly reinventing this music that we call ‘jazz’.

I’m extremely proud of Jazz at RWCMD from way back when to the present day. It’s extraordinary to think that students who met here as long ago as fifteen or twenty years, are still playing together.

Let’s continue to celebrate the music of our current students.’
Paula Gardiner

Tomos Williams, who returns to College with his band which includes fellow grads Joe Northwood and Aidan Thorne, shared some of his memories of training at RWCMD with us:

‘As a jazz musician from Aberystwyth, Paula Gardiner was the one name that I associated with ‘Welsh jazz’ at the time and I’d been listening to her brilliant album Tales of Inclination for a few years. I was delighted when I saw that Paula was teaching an ‘Adult Learning’ Sunday morning jazz class in Chapter Arts Centre – I could have a chance to meet and to learn from the master!

Tomos Williams

My time at the College was a great grounding in the fundamentals. Paula was always very inclusive, inspiring and encouraging – letting you find your own way rather than pointing you down a particular route as the ‘correct jazz path’.

Since then I’ve had the pleasure of inviting Paula to play at various gigs and was always pleasantly surprised when she’d agree. Having Paula on bass guaranteed the music would have gravitas, great time, and swing!

As Welsh jazz musicians our communal debt and thanks to Paula for her creative output and for being Head of Jazz at RWCMD for the last twenty years is immense. Diolch Paula!’

AmserJazz time with Xhosa Cole

Gwyl Amser Jazz, the Amser Jazz Time Festival

Four full days of music. As well as our wonderful grads, the students will be presenting their end of year assessments; although these are officially ‘exams’, what you will hear is an extraordinary range of some of the best and individual jazz programming in the UK.

‘And let’s not forget the final event of the programme, the RWCMD Big Band directed by Ceri Rees.

This is more proof of what the RWCMD family is – Ceri and I started studying together when it was ‘WCMD’ (Welsh College of Music & Drama) back in 1979.

Thank you for being my extended family RWCMD!’
Paula Gardiner

The last AmserJazzTime is on 30th June in the College’s Carne Foyer, and will be our chance to say diolch yn fawr to Paula. Do join us (our Friday night sessions are always free!)

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