MIRA Fundraiser Features Jazz Musicians
An award-winning jazz pianist who appeared at the Kennedy Center and at the Flint and Vail Jazz Festivals last summer, among other nationwide locations, is bringing his sparkling touch to the Bradshaw Theatre at The O'Neal School on Saturday, Jan. 19.
Justin Kauflin, recipient of the 2012 International Young Artist award that won him the Kennedy Center engagement, has been hailed as a "stellar jazz player, composer, leader and producer" by one East Coast critic.
Kauflin, a Virginia Beach resident, is performing in Moore County to raise funds for MIRA Foundation USA, the nonprofit organization whose goal is to offer blind children between the ages of 11-17 the chance to receive guide dogs free of charge, as well as providing educational outreach to promote public awareness.
This is a cause that has a special meaning to Kauflin, because he has been totally blind since age 11. In fact, he has re-harmonized the old familiar hymn "Be Thou My Vision," giving it new significance, and igniting it with an impassioned technique.
Beth Daniels, executive director of MIRA Foundation USA, with offices in Aberdeen, says, "Everyone at the Foundation is so excited to welcome Justin to the Sandhills for his first performance in the area, and we are grateful to the Pinehurst Medical Clinic for making this opportunity possible. Only in his 20s, Justin has been described as a musical wunderkind while garnering accolades as VEER Magazine's Jazz Artist of the Year for 2012 and being a semifinalist in the prestigious Monk International Jazz Competition."
Kauflin's talent, obvious as early as age 2, was nurtured with classical training in violin and piano. He switched to jazz piano in high school and began performing professionally when he was in his teens.
While attending the Governor's School for Performing Arts, he participated in master classes with Peter Nero, Steve Wilson, and Bill Cunliffe and other jazz notables.
Then it was on to William Paterson University in New Jersey, where he would be taken under the wing of the great Clark Terry, winner of 2010's Grammy Award for Lifetime Achievement in Jazz, and influenced by other well-known jazz musicians. The proximity to New York City during those years afforded him the chance to sit in and perform at jazz meccas like the Village Vanguard, Dizzy's Club Coca Cola and The Kitano Jazz Club. He graduated summa cum laude with a degree in music/jazz performance, and shortly after produced his first CD.
David Demsey, the coordinator of the university's jazz studies program, remembers Kauflin as an extraordinary musician with an exact touch and a singular style. Quoted in a recent interview, Demsey said, "He's very gifted technically. On top of his gift, he has this work ethic to make the most of that gift."
During the last year, Justin Kauflin and his trio have headlined regularly at the Havana Nights Jazz Club in Virginia Beach, where he is also the house pianist. He continues to perform and record with artists on the East Coast, as well as in jazz festivals across the country. Presently working on his next CD, he remains a featured artist for the Visionary Media Group in New York City.
"Piano Jazz with Justin" is taking place at the Bradshaw Theatre at The O'Neal School Saturday, Jan. 19, at 8 pm. Tickets are $35 for general admission with limited seating for VIP tickets at $60, which includes a pre-concert meet-the-artist reception from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.
For information and tickets, contact the MIRA office by calling (910) 944-7757. Tickets are also available at The Country Bookshop, in Southern Pines.
Contact Mary Elle Hunter at email@example.com.
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