About RIJF

About the Festival

See Artists through the Years - 2002 - 2022 - PDF

The CGI Rochester International Jazz Festival (RIJF) is one of the world’s leading jazz festivals presenting legendary performers, familiar favorites, rising stars, and new discoveries from around the world. 

RIJF is synonymous with Jazz in June when the joy of music brings the world to Rochester, New York. The multi-dimensional nine-day festival presents more than 1750 artists annually from around the world in 300+ shows at 19 venues. 

Founded in 2002, the festival is produced by RIJF, LLC, a privately held company owned by Marc Iacona, Producer and Executive Director and John Nugent, Producer and Artistic Director. Attendance has grown from 15,000 in 2002 to 210,000 in 2022.

The economic impact delivered to the region over the past 19 years now approaches $200 million. 

RIJF navigates all genres of creative improvised music, bringing together unique musical sounds from many countries and highlighting international artists' take on the only truly American art form - jazz. The festival's European-style format, where people can park once and walk to and from all venues, is presented in three series plus special programs, including the RJF/ESM Jazz Scholarship Program, Jam Sessions, and Jazz Workshops: 

  • Headliner Series, presents ticketed shows at Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre as well free shows on two outdoor stages, Wegmans Stage at PArcel 5 and City of Rochester Stage at Chestnut & East Ave
  • Club Pass Series of 192 shows at 11 Club Pass venues, accessible with the festival's unique Club Pass, a value pass to discovery, or single entry cash only at the door. The popular Club Pass provides access to all club venues to sample a wide spectrum of music. It's no wonder the festival motto is "It's not just who you know; it's who you don't know."
  • Free Show Series - In addition to free headliner shows on outdoor stages, more than 100 additional free shows are held at multiple venues and outdoor stages. No tickets are required. 
  • Jazz Workshops - Since 2013, Jazz Workshops led by visiting musicians have been offered over five days for music students of all ages, held during the Festival. Sponsored by Wegmans. 
  • Jam Sessions - Held nightly at the Hyatt Regency Rochester from 10:30 until... where there's no telling who will drop in to play. It's said that jazz never sleeps and this event proves it as the music goes on deep into the night  – often with unsung musicians who electrify the room. No cover charge. Food and beverages are available. Led by Bob Sneider and Karl Stabnau. The Squeezer Jam Sessions are sponsored by the DiMarco Group. 
  • Jazz Scholarship Program - The festival established the first jazz music scholarship at the renowned Eastman School of Music, awarding $500,000 for 42 scholarships since 2002 to attend the prestigious school. Each year a free scholarship concert is held during the festival featuring scholarship winners.  

About the Producers

Marc Iacona - Executive Director & Producer

Marc Iacona is a music festival producer and entrepreneur. A lifelong Rochester, New York native, he is CEO & President of Simcona Electronics Corporation, and CEO of Quadristi, LLC and Spectrum Custom Wire & Cable Manufacturing, LLC.

As an established patron of the arts and the community, Marc is dedicated to philanthropy and helping to build upon Rochester’s creative arts scene and strengthen its economy. Marc currently serves on the Eastman School of Music’s Dean’s Advisory Board and M&T Bank’s Advisory Board. He has served on the Board of Directors for the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra and participates in the Community Education Division Jazz Studies program at the Eastman School of Music and is proud to have Family Scholarship Foundations at St. John Fisher College, Nazareth College, and Eastman School.

Marc’s mission in life is to create a positive impact in everything that he does. In addition to producing the jazz festival, he invests in start-up companies that will elevate the presence of Rochester and create a positive economic impact.

John Nugent - Artistic Director & Producer

John Nugent is a musician and producer who has contracted and tour managed more than 1100 festival performances by 40 special projects/tours for established American artists including The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, Woody Herman Orchestra, Maria Schneider Jazz Orchestra, Jazz Legends Tribute to Ella Fitzgerald, Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra and many others. Over the past 22 years, John has been artistic director and co-producer of 46 major jazz festivals in the United States and Scandinavia.

Nugent graduated from St. Francis Xavier University with a diploma in Jazz Studies, attended the Banff School of Fine Arts, and then embarked on a four-year stint in jazz studies at North Texas State University. He has performed with a plethora of well-known musicians and entertainers, including Ella Fitzgerald, Tony Bennett, Rosemary Clooney, Buddy DeFranco, Clark Terry, Mel Lewis, Jim Hall, Bob Hope, the Temptations, the Four Tops, and Stevie Ray Vaughan. Born in Newfoundland, Canada, John became a naturalized American citizen in 2003, making Rochester his home a year after establishing the Rochester International Jazz Festival.

Rochester New York

Rochester is one of the nation's major music destinations. In addition to the annual Rochester International Jazz Festival, it is home to the renowned Eastman School of Music and the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra.  A cultural treasure, it has unique and nationally-recognized museums and historic sites, including The Strong National Museum of Play, Stasenburgh Plantarium, Eastman Museum and International Museum of Photography, Susan B. Anthony House, and Rochester Museum and Science Center. Its location in the picturesque Finger Lakes region, on Lake Ontario and the Erie Canal, makes it a favorite for sports year-round and vacations.  We're easy to get to, being just an hour away from both Buffalo and Syracuse, less than three hours from Toronto, and a short one-hour flight or five-hour drive from NYC.

Nurturing the Next Generation

Investing in the next generation is a major focus of the festival through the RIJF/ESM Jazz Scholarship, inviting more than 20 high school jazz bands annually, the best in the region, to perform each year on the Jazz Street stage and providing the opportunity for several youth ensembles from the Eastman School's community education program to play for international audiences.  

Tourism and Economic Impact

In addition to delivering an exhilarating and diverse program of music, RIJF is also proud to make a significant economic impact on the Rochester region, approaching $200 million over 19 years. 

People come from all across the world to attend the festival, corporations schedule major meetings and events during the festival, travel and meeting planners attend to explore the region for future meetings and conferences, and local music lovers often take the week off to enjoy all nine days of the festivities without worrying about staying up late!  

The festival's impact can also be felt throughout the year. It has paved the way for more live music in area venues and built audiences for many artists who are invited back by other area organizations for fundraisers and concerts. 

The RIJF organization has also been a tireless advocate for the arts as a key sector of our economy and a significant influence in showcasing Rochester, New York's wide-ranging resources and riches in the cultural arts, making it a destination for people worldwide.  

Global Recognition

The Festival's popularity continues to escalate. We are grateful to be recognized on local and national levels year after year. 

Impact of Covid

RIJF suffered a two-year hiatus in 2020 and 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Despite our attempt to do everything possible to deliver a festival in 2020 and 2021 the 19th Edition was repeatedly rescheduled from its original dates of June 19-27, 2020, to Oct 2-10, 2020, and then to June 18-26, 2021, and then to July 30-Aug 7 and finally to June 17-25, 2022. 

Updated April 2023