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Wellington Secondary Jazz Academy

The Wellington Jazz Academy inspires the next generation of musicians and arts supporters!

With leading lights like Christine and Ingrid Jensen and Diana Krall already on the international scene, Nanaimo has an established reputation as a jazz hotbed. And the consistent high performance of Carmella Luvisottos’ students from the Wellington Jazz Academy Program is maintaining that reputation.

A MusicFest jazz venue master of ceremonies set the record straight, saying, “It's not in the water; it's in the hard work.

Students at Wellington Secondary enrol in the Jazz Academy as part of their curricular studies from Grade 9 through Grade 12. The program includes band classes and for those looking at a more intense improvisation and theory studies, the Jazz Studies course. Nanaimo’s Jazz Academy is one of a handful of Canadian high school programs focused on jazz studies. At Wellington, the students develop the musical and improvisational skills needed to perform jazz standards and charts both as a team and as individuals. The students augment their studies by travelling from Nanaimo to Vancouver, British Columbia; Moscow, Idaho; Monterey, California; Toronto and Ottawa, Ontario to compete in recognized jazz festivals. The results are stellar, sealing Nanaimo’s name in the jazz world.


Carmella Luvisotto, born and raised in Nanaimo, has been the music teacher at Wellington Secondary School since 1996. Carmella points squarely at the people behind Nanaimo’s school band programs for setting her career on course. Having once been a music student in the Nanaimo School District music program herself, Carmella credits such mentors as Bryan Stovell, David Strong, Steve Jones, Gerry Taylor, and Dan Hudson.

Carmella learned to love music through her father who was one of several teachers to introduce school band into the elementary curriculum in Nanaimo. His love for jazz also directed her towards concentrating more on the jazz idiom which led to her successfully setting up a jazz academy at Wellington Secondary School in 2006. Carmella began playing piano at age seven, and in grade 6 she learned clarinet. In grade 8, she went on to Woodlands school to learn under the late Dave Strong. His inspiration, and later influence from her band teacher Bryan Stovell, would lead Carmella to keeping up her jazz piano playing. Post graduation led her to the Malaspina Jazz Program (now Vancouver Island University) under the direction of Steve Jones and then into the University of Victoria’s Music Education Program. Carmella’s teaching practicum took her back to Nanaimo with mentor Stovell. She continues to collaborate, perform and teach with Steve Jones and Bryan Stovell.

Some of Carmella's former students have moved on to higher levels of education and have successfully obtained degrees in music or in related areas. Last year two of Carmella’s student’s duo won the Monterey Next Generation Jazz Festival. This was the first time in the history an international, as well as, a Canadian group had won the festival. The duo performed at the Monterey Jazz Festival this past September as part of their winnings.

Carmella learned to love music through her father who was one of several teachers to introduce school band into the elementary curriculum in Nanaimo. His love for jazz In 2015 the Jazz Academy was recognized and awarded the Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce award for Cultural Vitality. In 2009, Carmella was awarded the “Excellence in Culture Award” by the City of Nanaimo, and was a finalist for the BC Premier’s Award for Teaching Excellence. In 2004, Carmella was also awarded the “Keith Mann Most Outstanding Band Director Award for Canada” by MusicFest Canada. Currently, Carmella sits on the MusicFest Canada Instrumental Jazz Committee.

Carmella enjoys her spare time with her family, especially her 8 year old daughter Sophia.

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