Planning on Course for 2021 CGI Rochester International Jazz Festival

February 11, 2021

This Year's Festival Will Move to July 30 – August 7 at Rochester Institute of Technology to Accommodate Distancing and Anticipated Public Health Guidelines

Rochester, NY—February 11, 2021-- In an effort to do everything possible to deliver a festival this summer, Marc Iacona and John Nugent, producers of the CGI Rochester International Jazz Festival, are pleased to announce that planning is underway to present the Festival‘s 19th edition this year from July 30 to August 7, 2021, on the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) campus. All plans are dependent on New York’s public health guidelines being favorable for travel and large gatherings. The decision to move forward will be made in spring.

As everyone’s collective health is the top priority, the move this year to RIT from downtown Rochester will allow organizers more flexible space to accommodate anticipated health guidelines that will likely dictate increased audience spacing. The move from June to July/August will allow for more people to be vaccinated and give the festival optimal use of RIT’s space since it will be in-between semesters.

“With Covid-19 and health consequences squarely on the minds of all event-goers around the world, we again find ourselves at a crossroads,” said Iacona and Nugent. “We are deeply grateful to our loyal patrons and sponsors and for countless messages of support as uncertainty prevails. Early February now brings us to a critical junction as we explore how to potentially present a festival, secure programming, and put together the plethora of logistics.”

The Festival’s 19th Edition was postponed twice because of the coronavirus pandemic. It was originally scheduled for June 19 to 27, 2020, then rescheduled for October 2 to 10, 2020, and eventually postponed to June 18-26, 2021. More than 208,000 people attend the nine-day annual event, coming from more than half of the United States and 20 countries to see 325-plus shows, and 1750-plus artists perform.

Marc Iacona, Festival Producer and Executive Director, said, “Planning is a challenge when we don’t know what the future will bring. We do know that this year's Festival cannot go on as usual. The way we work and how we live has changed. We are very encouraged that vaccines are becoming more available. And if public health guidelines allow us to proceed this summer, we must adapt to this new environment, which will require a more flexible and spacious festival footprint. The RIT campus meets that criteria.

"RIT is just six miles and less than 15 minutes from downtown Rochester. It has invested millions of dollars in state-of-the-art air purification systems and other safety measures. It has multiple venue options. This will allow us to provide for distancing to protect people’s health and ease their concerns, and not dramatically reduce capacity, which would make producing the festival unfeasible. Venues are within a short walk and there is plenty of room for parking. It also has experience dealing with large crowds and has successfully navigated public health safety during this pandemic for large numbers of students, faculty, staff, and the public with a COVID positivity rate of far less than one percent.

“Bottom line, we didn’t want to go another year without delivering a Festival to our patrons and our community. This plan, pending health guidelines, gives us a greater opportunity to do that. We are extremely grateful to the City of Rochester for its support over the years and during this transition. We thank our loyal sponsors for staying with us. And we extend our sincere appreciation to RIT for welcoming us to the campus and for their collaboration and vision in working with us to make this possible,” added Iacona. 

John Nugent, Producer and Artistic Director, said, “The essence of our Festival has always been to bring our community together, drawn by the majesty of creative improvised music and celebrating as one entity. While this new location will be a change for us all, and the first time we are not downtown, we will still shine the musical spotlight on greater Rochester. We are committed to making every effort to include the City of Rochester and many of our downtown-based partners at this new location. We will create a festive atmosphere including a Jazz Street, assure the ability to walk between venues, and offer a shuttle service.

“The loss of live music over the past year has taken a toll on society and significantly impacted our culture. It has been devastating for musicians who have been without their livelihoods. We are dedicated to doing everything in our power to deliver a festival with the same superior caliber of incredible artistry that patrons have come to expect, and in an environment that will be inspiring and elevating.”

Beyond RIT's main campus in Rochester, New York, it has international campuses in China, Croatia, Dubai, and Kosovo and nearly 19,000 students and more than 135,000 graduates from all 50 states and over 100 nations.

RIT embodies community pride and involvement. When asked to serve as the host venue for the CGI Rochester International Jazz Festival in 2021, we were happy to comply by offering an expansive setting where COVID safety precautions can be observed,” said RIT President David Munson. “The Jazz Fest aligns well with our mission as a university that works at the intersection of technology, the arts, and design. We have almost unlimited space for outdoor performance venues and ample adjacent parking. We've also invested more than $8 million in COVID-related infrastructure upgrades, including 3,000 new air purification systems and a variety of touchless technologies. This should provide for a safe and welcoming environment as we plan within public health guidelines. We look forward to doing our part to bring Greater Rochester together for a world-class event.”

As plans evolve over the next few months the producers will assess RIT’s many venue options. If public health officials give the green light to proceed, the lineup will be finalized and announced in spring. As previously announced, producers are committed to honoring agreements with as many artists as possible who were originally booked for the original 19th edition in June 2020.


  • Club Pass holders will be able to use their passes at this year’s Festival in 2021 or in 2022 or 2023.
  • The two headliner shows, Spyro Gyra and Puss N Boots, which are currently scheduled for June, will be canceled and refunds will be provided to all ticketholders. An email is being sent today to every ticketholder with refund information.

More Information

Festival updates will be provided on, in the Festival’s email newsletters, and on social media. FAQs have also been posted at and will be updated regularly as more information is available.



The CGI Rochester International Jazz Festival is one of the world’s leading jazz festivals. From legendary performers and familiar favorites to rising stars and new discoveries, the Festival navigates all genres of creative improvised music from all corners of the world. 

Founded in 2002 in Rochester, NY, the multi-dimensional nine-day Festival is held annually in Rochester, NY, and presents more than 1500 artists from around the world in 320+ shows at 20 venues. Attendance has grown from 15,000 in 2002 to 208,000 in 2019. The economic impact delivered to the region now exceeds $180 million. In addition to a headliner series and Club Pass Series of 220+ shows, the festival also presents 100+ free shows and events including nightly jam sessions and jazz workshops. The Festival's jazz scholarship program has awarded almost $500,000 in scholarships to 40 students entering Eastman School of Music. 

CGI Rochester International Jazz Festival is produced by RIJF, LLC, a privately held company owned by John Nugent and Marc Iacona. Nugent, Producer and Artistic Director, is a noted tenor sax player, who has traveled the world with many jazz artists including Tony Bennett, Ella Fitzgerald, Rosemary Clooney, The Woody Herman Orchestra, and The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra. Marc Iacona, Producer and Executive Director, is a Rochester native and President of Simcona Electronics. A business and community leader, he is an avid trumpeter and supporter of the arts.


Rochester Institute of Technology is home to leading creators, entrepreneurs, innovators and researchers. Founded in 1829, RIT enrolls nearly 19,000 students in more than 200 career-oriented and professional programs, making it among the largest private universities in the U.S. More than 135,000 alumni hail from 100-plus nations.

The university is internationally recognized and ranked for academic leadership in business, computing, engineering, imaging science, liberal arts, sustainability, and fine and applied arts. RIT also offers unparalleled support services for deaf and hard-of-hearing students. The cooperative education program is one of the oldest and largest in the nation. Global partnerships include campuses in China, Croatia, Dubai and Kosovo.