Gilbert Castellanos establishes Young Lions Jazz Conservatory

“My plan is to go all year long, and it’s going to be a little more intense."

Castellanos (left) and some of his pride
  • Castellanos (left) and some of his pride
  • photo by Robert Sanchez

“I’ve always had the idea to start my own school,” says trumpeter Gilbert Castellanos, who recently resigned as the artistic director of the International Academy of Jazz in order to establish the Young Lions Jazz Conservatory, a year-round after-school program that looks to start classes in late August or early September of this year.

Past Event

Rooftop Jazz: Gilbert Castellanos Trio

  • Thursday, August 31, 2017, 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
  • Westgate Hotel, 1055 Second Avenue, San Diego

Castellanos had mixed feelings about exiting the academy. “It’s a little bittersweet, and it was an extremely difficult decision — I put a lot of time and effort into building that program....”

In making the change, Castellanos hopes there are no hard feelings. “I left the [academy] at the end of the semester, so I gave the organization plenty of time to find a replacement. I respect what they’re doing and I wish them well, but the Young Lions is where my heart is....”

Castellanos says his program for middle school and high school students will be different in several areas.

“My plan is to go all year long, and it’s going to be a little more intense — meaning there will be higher requirements.... We’re going to be more hands-on with smaller ensembles but offer more exclusive public performance opportunities. We’ve already partnered with Jazz 88, the San Diego Symphony, Panama 66, and others. We’re also going to focus on master classes. At least once a month we’re going to bring in major artists like Charles McPherson or Marshall Hawkins....”

Castellanos is still weighing options for the school location. He’s got a big fundraiser coming up on August 20 at the Handlery Hotel in Mission Valley.

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