Vancouver Wine & Jazz Festival—A History of Success
NOTE: After being cancelled for 2 years due to the COVID pandemic, the Festival returned in 2022 - rebuilt and reborn. Visitors from 15 states and Canada attended, and people traveled from 77 cities that were greater than 50 miles from Vancouver; a remarkable statistic and proof that people need music and the arts in their lives.
The Vancouver Wine & Jazz Festival was founded by Artistic Director Michael Kissinger. A professional classical and jazz clarinetist, conductor, composer, and producer, Dr. Kissinger produced his first show when he was 16, a concert featuring the legendary jazz clarinetist Woody Herman and The Thundering Herd. While performing in the orchestra of the Spoleto Festival dei due Mondi in Spoleto, Italy, he envisioned creating a music and arts Festival in the U.S. See: www.michaelkissingermusic.com and www.bravoconcerts.com
The First Annual Vancouver Wine & Jazz Festival took place September 26-27, 1998 in downtown Vancouver. After nearly a year of planning, the Festival premiered to huge weekend crowds. By all measures, the Festival was an enormous success. The 1998 Festival was held on the site of the former Lucky Lager Brewery in downtown Vancouver. International jazz star and vocalist Dianne Schuur entertained a huge Saturday night crowd. 21 wineries, 6 restaurants and 40 fine artists participated.
Each year more than 150 people volunteer to support the Festival. Media estimates that 6-10,000 people attend the annual festival. Visitors from 25 states, Europe, China, Japan and Canada have attended, and more than 150,000 people have attended since its inception.
Every year the Festival features visual artists, hundreds of wines, local restaurants and numerous commercial exhibitors. In 20+ years, the Festival has presented such internationally acclaimed jazz artists including: Al Jarreau, Allen Toussaint, Arturo Sandoval, Bela Fleck, BeauSoleil, Bill Frisell, Billy Childs, Blind Boys of Alabama, Blood, Sweat & Tears, Bo Diddley, Booker T. Jones, Bobby Shew, Brubeck Brothers Quartet, Chick Corea, Chuck Mangione, Claudia Villela Coco Montoya, David Sanborn, Diane Schuur, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Don McLean, Dr. John, Eddie Palmieri, Ed Shaughnessy, Ernie Watts, Family Stone, Four Freshmen, Grace Kelly, James Cotton, Jane Monheit, Jean-Luc Ponty, Joey DeFrancesco, John Hammond, John Mayall, John Pizzarelli, Johnny A, Jose Feliciano, Judy Collins, Kenny Loggins, Lavay Smith, Lee Ritenour, Los Lobos, Manhattan Transfer, Marcia Ball, Mavis Staples, Melissa Manchester, Nicholas Payton, Pacific Mambo Orchestra, Poncho Sanchez, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Ramsey Lewis, Regina Carter, Rita Coolidge, Ronnie Baker Brooks, Russell Malone, Ruthie Foster, Sara Gazarek, Shemekia Copeland, Spanish Harlem Orchestra, Spyro Gyra, Stanley Clarke, Stanley Jordan, Take 6, The Gospel Hummingbirds, The Louis Armstrong Society Jazz Band, The 5th Dimension, The Rippingtons, The Savoy-Doucet Cajun Band, The Temptations, The Yellowjackets, Toshiko Akiyoshi, WAR and others; as well as more than 100 local and regional jazz bands. The Festival is a program of Bravo! Concerts Northwest, a 501(c)3 nonprofit arts organization.
What is the Vancouver Wine & Jazz Festival?
Awarded “Outstanding Tourism Event” by Clark County, the Festival is the #1 Cultural Tourism event in Southwest WA and is “…the largest jazz festival of its kind in the Northwest…” (ABC TV KATU 2 Portland, OR). Since 1998 visitors from 25 states, Canada, China, Europe, and Japan have attended the Festival.
Out management team of 20 is led by Artistic Director Michael Kissinger and Festival Director Maria Manzo. More than 150 community volunteers assist each year with the production of the Festival.
Michael Kissinger, Founder & Artistic Director
Maria Manzo, Festival Director
Festival Management Team
Christopher Alexander, Director of Festival Security
Mark Babilon, Director of Operations & Special Projects
Mary Braut, VIP Front Gate Assistant
Davor Braut, I.T. Director | Assistant Stage Manager
Brandon Buth, National Sponsorship Sales Manager
Anna Collins, Front Gate Manager
Paul Cosby, VIP Front of House Concierge
Frank Escudero, Chicago Office | Assistant to the Festival Director
Chef Gordon Graham, VIP Chef & Catering Manager
Tim Hagan, Bravo! Concerts Northwest Board Advisor
Sylvia Howes, Business Manager
David Kirchner, Stage Manager
Heidi Kohn, Assistant Stage Manager
Marcine Miles, Volunteer Liaison
Mary Peters, Volunteer Manager
Richard Runabear, Poster Distribution
Fred Schaich, Poster Distribution
Marian Woyvodich, VIP Sponsor Liaison
Dan Meyer, Director of Operations (Emeritus)
+ Marge Martel, Business Manager (Emeritus In Memorium)
+ Jesse Kissinger, Supporter & Donor (Emeritus In Memorium)
+ Dirk Fournier, CEO, Fournier Group (Emeritus In Memoriam)
+ Sylvia Manzo, Bravo! Concerts Northwest Promotion Manager (Emeritus In Memoriam)
+ Mike Wilson, Philanthropy & Donor Manager (Emeritus In Memoriam)
+ Howard Hedinger, Philanthropist, Supporter, & Donor (Emeritus In Memoriam)
+ Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. ~Amen~ Requiem aeternam
What is the Purpose of the Festival?
ARTS: To be a major festival of the musical, visual, performing, enological arts.
ARTS: To entertain, enrich, and educate audiences.
ARTS: To promote the programs of Bravo! Concerts Northwest.
ECONOMIC: To attract thousands of tourists to Southwest Washington.
ECONOMIC: To provide value to Festival Sponsors.
EDUCATION: To provide music education opportunities for students.
COMMUNITY: To build community and civic pride.