Marshall Hawkins doing “life” with some of his former students, in this case a wedding. From left, Mike Barnett, ’05; Hawkins; Stevo Mann, ’05; Veronica Baird; and Andrew Baird, ’03.Photo courtesy Mike Barnett
Marshall Hawkins doing “life” with some of his former students, in this case a wedding. From left, Mike Barnett, ’05; Hawkins; Stevo Mann, ’05; Veronica Baird; and Andrew Baird, ’03. Photo courtesy Mike Barnett

More than 100 Idyllwild Arts alumni, from graduating years 1987 through 2015, are returning to campus for a reunion weekend honoring Marshall Hawkins Friday, March 4, through Sunday, March 6. For 30 years, Hawkins has lovingly told the story of jazz, inspired his students to find their individual voices and grow within this original American art form.

Two alums, Mike Barnett, ’05, and Angelina Burnett, ’96, are co-chairs of the centerpiece of the weekend, the Alumni Jazz Concert on Saturday, March 5. Thirteen of Hawkins’ jazz graduates, many of them rising stars in the jazz family firmament, are returning to play for the teacher who, more than any other, influenced their career choices.

Returning are Evan Christopher, ’87, clarinet; Ray Clemens, ’96, bass; Patrick Farrell, ’97, drums; Andy Fraga Jr., ’97, drums; Daniel Sazer-Krebbers, ’02, bass; Graham Dechter, ’04, guitar; Tommy Cooper, ’04, trumpet; Stephen “Stevo” Mann, ’05, guitar; Nora Germain, ’09, violin; Jacob Scesney, ’11, alto sax; Luca Jacaruso, ’14, piano; and Martin Budde, ’14, guitar.

Barnett noted the emotional pull and influence Hawkins continues to have over his students, even after 30 years. “If you could think of any teacher who could get the most students to come back, it would be Marshall,” he said. “He is such a quiet man. He never talks about himself, he just does it [the music and the story of jazz]. It’s clear through his actions what he is thinking. He means so much to so many.”

Barnett related how each year began with a faculty concert with students loudly applauding their teachers. “All Marshall would have to do would be to walk on stage and there would be a standing ovation,” he recalled. “What he does as a teacher that is so special is to show you how to feel and live jazz. It’s not just the scales and the chords. He teaches you how to create your own voice and that is the biggest gift a teacher can give.”

Other events planned for the Hawkins weekend include a screening of the documentary “Hawkins,” by Devon Gilpatrick and Ashi Manoff, and a fireside chat between jazz pianist, mentor and inspirational speaker Harry Pickens and Hawkins. “Human beings have the capacity to live as instruments of grace and bringers of joy … At the very core of our being is a reservoir of joy, of love, of possibility,” said Pickens, of music and the source of his creative energy. Pickens’ philosophy is part of the bond that unites him with Hawkins. They both live to love the music and to share that love with their students.

The Saturday Alumni Jazz Concert is open to the public but seating will be limited, noted both Barnett and Darren Schilling, Idyllwild Arts manager of alumni and parent relations. “We’ll have 100 alumni on campus and our own student body, many of whom will be attending the concert,” said Schilling.

The concert, from 8 to 9:30 p.m. Friday, March 5, is tentatively scheduled to inaugurate Lowman Hall but in the event Lowman is not yet ready, the concert will be held in the IAF Theatre.

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To view the Hawkins documentary on youtube, visit