Phil Dwyer and the MAC are teaming up to bring back Dwyer’s Academy of Music and Culinary Arts this August, with registration expected to open up April 3. — NEWS File Photo

Phil Dwyer re-opens summer Jazz school with MAC in Parksville

Registration begins April 3 for Phil Dwyer Academy of Music and Culinary Arts

Juno Award-winning jazz saxophonist, composer, producer and educator Phil Dwyer is re-opening his summer Jazz academy with help from the MAC.

The camp runs from August 13-15, and the local musician and member of the Order of Canada said, “I think it might be the best music faculty for a summer camp that’s ever been assembled in Canada.”

Musicians including Neil Swainson, Ken Lister, Ingrid Jensen, Christine Jensen and guest artist PJ Perry are among those who will teach at the camp, which will include student concerts and a faculty concert at Knox United Church on Aug. 16.

With the first week for senior jazz (16-19 years) and junior jazz (13-15 years), and week two for adult jazz and vocal jazz, the Phil Dwyer Academy of Music and Culinary Arts will provide an opportunity for several dozen jazz musicians to learn from these well-known performers.

Five full scholarships will be reserved for local students to attend the program, said the MAC’s executive director, Jennifer Bate.

“We are now trying to get sponsors for the program — we are halfway to our goal of $20,000 to help underwrite the costs of faculty contracts and expenses,” she said.

Dwyer said Bate approached him for advice on starting up a jazz program, prompting Dwyer to re-start a summer camp that he ran out of his house with his wife for nine years, from 2005 to 2014.

The culinary portion of the program started as a way to teach young musicians the basics of cooking, as Dwyer found their knowledge was lacking in that area.

“A lot of them didn’t know how to do even any basic cooking. They’d be eating Subway and KFC,” Dwyer said.

Dwyer’s original program eventually grew to the point where about 45 students and 12 faculty were making lunch every day in his backyard — it had all become too big.

This time, with the support of the MAC, practice space at Ballenas school, Inclusion Parksville and the MAC itself, Dwyer said he’s excited to offer the opportunity to students again.

“For me, it’s such a thrill to be able to pick up the phone and phone eight or nine of the best musicians I know in the world and say, ‘Hey, come to Parksville for a week,” said Dwyer.

“I think it’s really great for the community. For the students that come, it’s a great opportunity, but for people in the community, it’s an opportunity to hear musicians of a calibre that they might normally have to go to Montreal or New York or Toronto to hear.”

For the MAC’s part, Bate said she has hopes for the program to be an annual one, and that it helps put the McMillan Arts Centre’s School for the Creative Arts on the map.

The culinary arts portion of the program will continue, with groups of students helping to make lunch for everyone each day, said Dwyer.

“I’m glad that it looks like we’re going to be able to continue making that an element of the camp,” he said.

For more info, keep an eye on the McMillan Arts Centre website at

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