Jazzaar Festival

History .

Fritz Renold realized early in his musical career that next to talent, the success of a working musician lies as much in the level of his self-initiative and the extent of a global network. Renold was the first Swiss jazz musician to be signed on to SONY-BMG New York and after graduating with a Summa Cum Laude at the Berklee College of Music, he became the first Swiss and youngest faculty member at the same college. While in Boston he had the opportunity to work with Jerry Bergonzi, Alan Dawson, Adam Nussbaum, Miroslav Vitous, Danilo Perez, Herb Pomeroy, Hal Crook, Christian Jacob, George Russel and more.

Helen Savari, recording artist with EMI – Malaysia & Berklee Alumnus ’88 had realised the importance of role modelling for shaping and building young talents in music even while leading a successful singing career in Malaysia with her sister Irene Savari (the duet ‘Cenderawasih’) back in the early eighties. When Helen and Fritz first met in Boston, MA during their studies at the Berklee College of Music, this was a topic that bond their friendship from the start.

Upon moving to Switzerland in 1990, the newly wed couple initiated a role model based Project, that gave musically talented youth from Aargau the opportunity to play together with international jazz luminaries, especially from the USA. They combined the ‘Bostonian Friends‘ tours that was soon infiltrated by Friends from New York, Los Angeles and other American states to extend into projects associated with Renold’s pedagogical charges at the Swiss Jazz School Bern, the Kantonsschulen Aarau and the national Music University in Stuttgart. These frequent musical encounters between professionals and student musicians became the heart and core for Jazzaar’s music educational concept. Each time mentors from the contemporary international jazz scene such as Christian Jacob or Randy Brecker would spend a week with youth musicians working out new compositions and arrangements to present impeccable performances together. During a Bostonian Friends tour, the Renolds became acquainted with the Swiss trumpeter Franco Ambrosetti with whom they initiated together a national level Swiss Youth Jazz Orchestra that began touring with the professionals with performances in Switzerland and in Europe.

However with the founding of the jazzaar Association in 1997 that would relieve the Renolds of the growing administrative and financial strains, a youth development festival in Aarau developed with public and private support that would be known as Jazzaar concerts. The Youth Jazz Orchestra was limited to student intakes only from the canton Aargau due to cantonal policy as well as to the primarily regional sponsorships. Nevertheless, the Aargau Youth Jazz Orchestra grew tremendously into three youth projects that Jazzaar produced annually.


Since 2018 the Swiss Youth Ensembles have had the opportunity to resume the tours following the premier concerts thanks to EFG Bank International and their partners.