History & Vision


Spearheaded by Ajay Heble, the Guelph Jazz Festival was founded in 1994 by a group of friends who shared a love of jazz and a commitment to Guelph. The Festival has consistently garnered praise from local, national, and international critics for its great programming.

The Guelph Jazz Festival has commissioned several large-scale multi-disciplinary works including Passages, a multi-media improvised opera by Jesse Stewart and based on poetry by Paul Haines; Québécité a multicultural romance with music by D.D. Jackson and libretto by George Elliott Clarke; and In Place of Wishes for children of all ages, written by Robert Pennee with music by a quintet of improvisers. Our 20th anniversary commission, Gnomon Variations by Jesse Stewart, was performed with the Penderecki String Quartet.


  • Winner, Premier’s Award for Excellence in the Arts, 2010
  • Finalist, Premier’s Award for Excellence in the Arts, 2009
  • Nominee, Festival of the Year, National Jazz Awards, 2009
  • Finalist, Premier’s Award for Excellence in the Arts, 2008
  • Finalist, Events Producer of the Year, Jazz Journalists Association, 2008
  • Winner, Lieutenant Governor’s Award for the Arts, 2001, 2000, 1997


Guelph Jazz Festival offers adventurous music that inspires listeners to hear and see the world with a fresh perspective.


Guelph Jazz Festival provides opportunities for everyone to be inspired by and engaged in creative music. The Festival strives to present distinctive music that reflects the world in which we live and to make it accessible to the broadest possible audience through concerts, educational initiatives, and free programs.


  • We re-imagine the nature of community
  • We actively cultivate a wide range of community partnerships
  • We encourage artistic collaboration, teamwork, and volunteerism
  • We provide access with affordable ticket prices and free events


  • We deliver educational opportunities for youth
  • We engage learners of all ages
  • We inspire lively discussion


  • We encourage bold artistic ventures
  • We commission new works
  • We embrace innovative approaches to social change


  • We consider creative music within a global context
  • We celebrate artistic and cultural diversity in our programs and our organization