The KBB Music Festival is structured as a week-long event. Each year, between 130 and 150 ensembles, from approximately 50 Auckland secondary schools, participate in the festival. Though the event specifically targets students from within the greater Auckland area, we also regularly host a small number of visiting ensembles from around the country. Ensembles enter in four different categories: Symphony Orchestras, Chamber Orchestras, Concert Bands and Jazz Bands. In each category every ensemble is given a half hour performance slot in which to do a public performance that represents the culmination of their year’s work together. All adjudicated sessions are open to the public in the form of free concerts. These performances are attended by relatives, friends, interested members of the community and school representatives. The four categories are all adjudicated by a panel of professional musicians, who provide ensembles with constructive written and recorded-verbal feedback. The adjudicators make graded awards to a number of groups as a way of promoting excellence, and other awards to encourage participation, positive behaviour, and the pure entertainment value of music. 

Each year the festival concludes with two Gala Concerts at which the top four groups in each category are invited to perform. At the conclusion of these concerts, awards are presented to ensembles. The festival also includes an inter-school opportunity for musicians to come together and participate in the performance of a particularly challenging musical work. 

Participation in large ensemble music making (Concert Bands, Symphony Orchestras, Chamber Orchestras and Jazz Bands) leads students into a world of highly developed technical, artistic, co-operative and self-evaluative skills. The KBB Music Festival encourages ensemble music making by providing a high quality “apex-event” where ensembles from any of Auckland’s Secondary Schools can come together and celebrate their achievements amongst their peers. Playing in a musical ensemble while at school encourages the development of relationships between Kura and Whanau; musical involvement builds community and heightens a sense of belonging. We strongly believe that participation in the event will have significant ongoing mental health benefits for students as their performance at the KBB Music Festival is built up from: regular/predictable weekly rehearsals, incremental self-improvement, building communities of diverse young people working towards a common goal, appropriate challenge/skill balance and engaging in an activity which has personal significance.

The KBB Music Festival is a large undertaking which showcases the efforts of thousands of students from around the city. Funding from the Joyce Fisher Charitable contributes significantly to our ability to run the event – in particular their financial support allows us to run the Joyce Fisher Mentoring Programme, which gives opportunities to music educators for professional development and mentoring in their growth as ensemble directors. Joyce Fisher funding also underpins many of the technical aspects of the festival, in particular, allowing us to engage the services of a professional sound engineer to assist in the running of the Jazz Band category.