Clarendon takes centre stage at Generations in Jazz festival

The Generations in Jazz festival has a rich history, dating back to 1997 and now attracts over 5,000 students annually from schools across Australia and New Zealand as well as public audiences. The event features more than 300 school jazz and vocal ensembles, soloists, professional concerts, workshops and competitions across five divisions of stage bands.

Clarendon’s Barry Currie Stage Band and Hamish McDougall Jazz Ensemble journeyed to South Australia for the festival last weekend. Their instruments and luggage were stowed in the brand-new Clarendon red PAC trailer and everyone was in high spirits!

The Barry Currie Stage Band took the stage in one of the pavilions, performing their meticulously prepared set piece, ballad and own choice selections. Soloists Zion Lam (alto sax, Year 12), Archie Jenkin (drums, Year 12), Will Hinde (tenor sax, Year 11), and James Clarke (trumpet, Year 11) dazzled both the crowd and the adjudicator. Their outstanding performances earned them spots in the honorary Superband.

The band also had a chance to showcase their creativity and improvisational skills in the small combo section. Some students participated in a mass-vocal session, while others explored student leadership within ensembles and music departments.

Old Collegians Sophie Clarke (2022), Aranatee Farid (2023), and Ben Nguyen (2023) each travelled many hours from Melbourne to support their former bandmates. Sophie expressed her appreciation for the festival, emphasising its unique value, “GiJ is incredibly valuable—learning by watching some of the best musicians in Australia and the world, performing in a unique place, being inspired by and connecting with other students our own age, and bonding as we travelled and lived together as a band. There’s nothing else like it!”

In a historic achievement, the Barry Currie Stage Band secured first place in Division 3, with four members joining the Division 3 Superband. The triumphant weekend left everyone enriched by the experience.

“It felt like all the work from the last few months came together in a split-second moment,” said Will Hinde (Year 11).

Inspired by a performance from senior peers at the 2019 festival, six current students founded the Hamish McDougall Jazz Ensemble, named after Old Collegian Hamish McDougall (2020). The band received a congratulatory message from their role model, which undoubtedly motivated and encouraged them.

“What an awesome experience, congratulations to all involved for this amazing result! It takes massive collective effort to achieve success at GiJ … it makes you so proud to have been a part of the Performing Arts program at Clarendon, seeing everyone evolving into incredibly talented musicians,” said Hamish McDougall (2020).

Barry Currie’s visit to the band’s rehearsal was a highlight of the week. He personally congratulated the students on their achievement, generously sharing his wisdom and memories at Clarendon. Students were excited to meet Barry in person for the first time! Undoubtedly, such meaningful interactions left lasting memories and provided inspiration for all young musicians.

“It was an honour to meet Mr Currie and feel a connection to the roots of the stage band legacy at Clarendon,” said James Nguyen (Year 11)

Congratulations to all the students, teachers and volunteers on another fantastic year at the festival! Your dedication to the performing arts program is truly commendable and your collective effort has enriched the entire Clarendon community.

The Barry Currie Stage Band performs an extended set at the annual Clarendon Ball to support fundraising efforts by the school’s Friends of Performing Arts auxiliary (FoPA), as well as appearing in Clarendon’s Music Showcase and picnic programs. Some of the funds raised from the gala ball enable FoPA to subsidise the cost of Generations in Jazz attendance to ensure this is an accessible and inclusive event for students.

All adult members of the Ballarat community are warmly invited to see the band perform alongside other live entertainment at the 2024 ‘Black tie to Bollywood Ball’ at the Ballarat Mining Exchange on 31 August.  Tickets are on sale now at