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Face of jazz festival to take break from gig

The only artistic director the Guelph Jazz Festival has ever had will be taking a break from the gig next year.

“Yes, I’ll be taking a short leave from the festival,” co-founder and artistic director Ajay Heble said in an email in response to a Tribune inquiry.

“The leave, as per my current plans, will start after this year’s festival (Sept. 3 to 7) and will last until the 2015 event,” he said.

Heble, a professor in the University of Guelph’s School of English and Theatre Studies, will be on sabbatical research leave from the university for the 2014-15 school year.

“I wanted to take this opportunity to focus on my research,” said Heble, noting that he has told the festival’s board of directors that he is happy to stay involved in the event in an informal mentoring and advisory capacity during his leave.

In the meantime, the board’s search for an interim artistic director is already underway.

A job posting with an application deadline of July 14, posted on workinculture.ca, describes the ideal candidate as a “dynamic, creative professional with a strong knowledge of and passion for creative music.”

“We are looking for someone who has a strong knowledge of the festival’s musical mandate who can continue our world class programming,” board president J.J. McMurtry said in an email, “someone with a strong track record in the jazz community and as an artistic director, and someone who understands Guelph as a community.”

The board hopes to have a new artistic director picked out by Aug. 1, and that person will be with the festival until 2016, when Heble will return, McMurtry said.

Heble’s vision will still be part of the 2015 festival.

“Since most of my planning for the festival is done about a year and a half in advance, I have already mapped out a provisional program for the 2015 Guelph Jazz Festival that I’ll pass along to the person we hire,” he said.

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