When George Mason University, just outside of Washington, put on a jazz concert 10 years ago, student musicians played to an almost empty theater. But now the annual concert is a great success for the university and helps to raise money for people in the community who need legal services and cannot afford them. Our correspondent reports on how a local attorney turned things around.
In this room at George Mason University, students rehearse for the school's annual jazz concert. The concert features student soloists and faculty and guest musicians. Student David Roth plays guitar.
"Access to musicians that are renowned both around the area, regionally and throughout the United States and the world, is really unique opportunity that we have in putting together this concert," he said.
Thanks to local attorney Ed Weiner. He was one of the few in the audience when the school first staged the jazz concert 10 years ago.
"The quality of the performance was outstanding, but I was shocked to see the poor attendance," he said.
So Weiner created Jazz 4 Justice in order to expand attendance and raise funds for the community. Jim Carroll is the director of the university's jazz studies.
"It evolved slowly, year after year, became larger and larger," he said. "All the credit really goes to Ed Weiner. He has done so much to help this program. He is the guy who is out there on the streets selling tickets, building our audience so and so forth."
Carroll says Jazz 4 Justice is a win-win situation. He says that half the concert's proceeds go to the university for jazz scholarships and the rest to the Fairfax Law Foundation to support public access to justice and promote legal education.
"We provide legal services for those people who cannot afford to have a lawyer to represent them on their own," said Weiner. "We also operate the only public law library in northern Virginia."
Weiner says the law foundation sponsors programs for school age children and provides an enriching experience for the student musicians.
"We want to keep the focus on the students," he said. "This is part of their education and they really see that their talents can be turned into very good projects and doing good for the entire community."
Student Amy Loudin plays trombone:
"It's all for a good cause, so I feel glad to be a part of that," she said.
Weiner says he hopes that Jazz 4 Justice can be copied by other communities in Virginia and across the country.