I have served as the Director of the International Trombone Festival since the fall of 2017.  In the time since, I have enjoyed the ups and downs of this post – lots of stress, mixed with the incredible fun of meeting and performing with teachers, students, and artists from all over the world.  And, it is especially rewarding when I see how many people attend and enjoy the Festival – making new friends and connections, in the process!

The ITF is a multi-day event, featuring a wide range of international trombone artists in virtually all styles of music, in a venue that moves around the world, annually.  We also have the biggest and the best trombone exhibit hall, hosting 30-40 companies each year, and we attract a massive audience of around 1000 students, hobbyists, teachers, and professionals from around the world.  It is a week of fun, mayhem, friends, and trombone – I hope you will consider joining us!

A big part of my job at the ITF has been a focus on diversity in programming, and an overall expansion of the reach and scope of the Festival.  This is an ongoing process and one to which I am deeply committed.  Together with an amazing team of outstanding staff members, we have made much progress in recent years, and I am proud of the diversity of musical styles we can now offer to audiences.  It has been not only super fun for me personally, but a huge honor to research and invite diverse artists from all over the world.  I consider it a tremendous responsibility, and I hope to continue to be a part of this incredible event for years to come!

I recently posted some thoughts on social media, regarding the purpose and growth of the ITF, especially in its role as a flagship for the trombone community worldwide:

Trombone friends around the world – As we reflect on the diversity statement issued today by the International Trombone Association, I would like to take this moment to recognize the incredible work of the ITF staff and hosts in recent years. We have been, and continue to be committed to diversity in programming, and I am happy to report that this initiative has transformed the Festival for the better. I hope that you might all take a minute to review our website, and have a look at how the Festival has evolved. Then, of course, make plans to join us!

In discussions on diversity, I have too often seen the argument that there simply aren’t enough high quality artists to meaningfully make diversity a reality. Friends, this simply is not true. Now heading into my fourth season as Director, it has been my great honor be a part of the ITF team that researches and invites artists, and I am happy to report that there are incredible musicians doing amazing things all over the world! All that is needed is a willingness to look.

The other great news is that audience response to diversity is overwhelmingly positive. Not only has the Festival grown in size and scope over the past three years, but I have consistently received enthusiastic feedback about the quality of our programming. Even so, we still have a lot of room to evolve, and I hope the trombone community around the world will continue to grow with us!

None of this would be possible without the hard work and dedication of the ITF staff and hosts, who work tirelessly behind the scenes, to bring our vision to life. Each and every one of these people is committed to the success of the ITF, and brings with them a commitment to progress and change that inspires me. These are the people who make things happen, and I am grateful to have them on my team.

I don’t tell them enough how much I appreciate their hard work and commitment, so I am going to tell them now! Thank you to Justin Cook, Festival Manager, @Chris Van Hof, 2019 Host and current Festival Assistant Manager, Jonathan Allen, 2018 Host and 2019 Festival Assistant Manager, Deb Scott, Director of the Composers Workshop, Andrea Van Hof, Director of the Youth Workshop, Karen Cubides, Director of Social Media, Chris Bill, all-around amazing purveyor of content and happiness, Carol Jarvis, who serves as our event MC, Bradley Palmer, who will be our host in 2021, and Andrew Glendening and Julia Broome-Robinson, who led the Festival in 2017.
You are all amazing – thank you!

In closing, please know that my door is always open. If you have suggestions, questions, or comments, please email me! We are all in this together! Dr. Karen Marston

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