Penn’s Woods Music Festival expands jazz offerings to summer concerts

In 2018, Penn's Woods Music Festival (PWMF) presented a night of Brazilian jazz with hopes to expand the professional music festival to new audiences. The concert was so well received that the festival started to plan for the next one – but then a pandemic hit. Returning with live audiences last summer, the festival featured local artist Rick Hirsch, who programmed an exquisite evening of beautiful lyric melodies that inspired the enthusiastic audience. Planning for summer 2022, we continued to seek out jazz musicians that have stretched musical boundaries and borders. Performances are Fridays, June 17 and 24 at 7:00 p.m. on the Olsan-Stone Terrace at the Penn State School of Music. Tickets are general admission $25 adult/$10 student. Our first concert celebrating Juneteenth at 7:00 p.m.on Friday, June 17, features tenor saxophonist Dayna Stephens, globally recognized saxophonist, composer and arranger and the first-place recipient of the 2019 DownBeat Critics Poll in the category Rising Star. Playing with pureness of intention, Dayna admits he’s always searching to find what’s “singable.” That search often results in live improvisations and written compositions that challenge traditional concepts of harmony, pushing phrasing and sending beautiful and unintentional melodies in unlikely directions. Dayna’s soulful lines have resonated through the halls of such internationally renowned venues as the Village Vanguard, Blue Note Jazz Club, Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, Birdland, Yoshi’s, The Blue Whale, Marians Jazzroom in Switzerland, Blue Note Milano, Philharmonie de Paris, Le Duc des Lombards, Red Rocks and San Francisco Jazz Center. Joining Danya will be vocalist and composer Tammy Scheffer, a creative force in New York City’s vibrant music scene for the past decade; jazz keyboardist and composer Art Hirahara; drummer Larry Marshall and bassist Joshua Davis, classical and jazz faculty at Penn State. “Bringing world-class musicians to our region to share their music, stories and unique experiences is a priority for the festival," said Russell Bloom, assistant director for operations and outreach in the School of Music. "Highlighting the incredible talents of our Penn State community who travel throughout the world sharing their music and stories is included in that priority.”
If we were going to offer more than orchestral and chamber music to the region, the festival needed to present music that typically is not offered during the other times of the year." -Russell Bloom
On June 24 at 7:00 p.m., come celebrate Afro-Cuban jazz, a style of music that blends rhythms and percussion instruments of Cuba and the Spanish Caribbean with jazz and its fusion of European and African musical elements. Penn State Music faculty, students and friends twice visited Cuba before the pandemic and the festival is excited to hear their music and stories. Penn State School of Music faculty Velvet Brown (tuba), David Stambler (saxophone) and Marko Marcinko (drums) along with alumni Kate Anderson (saxophone), Wade Judy (trombone) and Jaren Angund (percussion), will collaborate with Kelly Rossum (trumpet), Nicholas Weiser (keyboard) and Randall Pharr (bass), sharing their stories and tunes from their two trips to Cuba. The 2022 Penn’s Woods Music Festival is co-sponsored by the Penn State School of Music in the College of Arts and Architecture, WPSU, Designer’s Studio and Happy Valley Adventure Bureau. For more information, visit

Schools and Departments: School of Music