The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and Virginia Arts Festival HBCU Jazz Residency

SBO Staff • News • January 4, 2023

  • In a unique new collaboration that advances jazz education
    at Historically Black Colleges and Universities
  • February 25 Performance will include HBCU Jazz Ensembles from the residency

The Virginia Arts Festival will welcome back a long-time audience favorite on February 25, 2023—but this time the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra’s performance will cap a unique collaboration including Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, led by Wynton Marsalis, is made up of 15 of the finest soloists, ensemble players, and arrangers in jazz music today. An egalitarian enterprise, the Orchestra accords every member equal importance, based on Wynton Marsalis’ core belief about the art form. As he puts it, “Jazz music is the perfect metaphor for democracy. We improvise, which is our individual rights and freedoms; we swing, which means we are responsible to nurture the common good, with everyone in fine balance; and we play the blues, which means no matter how bad things get, we remain optimistic while still mindful of problems.”

Wynton Marsalis is an internationally acclaimed musician, composer and bandleader, an educator and a leading advocate of American culture. Winner of nine Grammy Awards (with an astonishing 32 Grammy nominations), he has created and performed an expansive range of music from quartets to big bands, chamber music ensembles to symphony orchestras and tap dance to ballet, expanding the vocabulary for jazz and classical music with a vital body of work that places him among the world’s finest musicians and composers. As an ambassador for jazz, he has made an indelible mark on our culture, and has been recognized with the Pulitzer Prize for Music and the National Medal of Arts.

A key mission of Wynton Marsalis and Jazz at Lincoln Center is education, and the Orchestra organizes jazz education at every level, including band competitions at the high school and college level. Their Jack Rudin Jazz Championship features ensembles from the most highly regarded university jazz programs in the country; and now the Virginia Arts Festival embarks in a new collaboration with them to shine a spotlight on the bands of Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

Over the course of this new HBCU residency, student ensembles will receive coaching from the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra members, participate in a question-and-answer session with Wynton Marsalis, join in an open jam, and have the opportunity to attend the Virginia Arts Festival Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra concert on February 25. The top ensembles will perform live on stage that night for the first half of the program.

“We’re excited about the opportunity to showcase HBCU jazz bands,” said Virginia Arts Festival Perry Artistic Director Robert W. Cross. “There is phenomenal talent to be celebrated, and so much to be learned on all sides. The residency and the performance promise to be among the highlights of our 2023 Festival season.”

Tickets for the February 25th Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis are on sale now, available online at, by phone at 757-282-2822, or at the Festival Ticket Office, 440 Bank St, Norfolk (Monday-Friday, 10am-5pm).

About Virginia Arts Festival
Since 1997, under the direction of Perry Artistic Director Robert W. Cross, the Virginia Arts Festival has presented great performers from across the globe. Renowned artists who have performed at the festival include Itzhak Perlman, Renée Fleming, Yo-Yo Ma, Joshua Bell, Olga Kern, Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Miami String Quartet, Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Stewart Copeland, Audra McDonald, Kelli O’Hara, Patti LuPone, Birmingham Royal Ballet, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, American Ballet Theatre and Mark Morris Dance Group. The festival has presented numerous world premieres and new productions of classical music, dance, and theatre from some of today’s most influential composers, choreographers and playwrights. Van Cilburn gold medalist Olga Kern serves as the Festival’s Connie and Marc Jacobson Director of Chamber Music and award-winning Broadway music director Rob Fisher serves as the Festival’s Goode Family Artistic Advisor for Musical Theater and American Songbook. Each season, performances from the Virginia Arts Festival are broadcast nationwide on American Public Radio’s Performance Today. The festival’s arts education programs reach tens of thousands of schoolchildren each year through student matinees, in-school performances, artist residencies, master classes and demonstrations.

About Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra (JLCO)
The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis (JLCO) comprises 15 of the finest jazz soloists and ensemble players today. Led by Wynton Marsalis, Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Managing and Artistic Director, this remarkably versatile orchestra performs a vast repertoire ranging from original compositions and Jazz at Lincoln Center-commissioned works to rare historic compositions and masterworks by Duke Ellington , Count Basie, Fletcher Henderson, Thelonious Monk, Mary Lou Williams, Dizzy Gillespie, Benny Goodman, Charles Mingus, and many others. The JLCO has been the Jazz at Lincoln Center resident orchestra since 1988, performing and leading educational events in New York, across the United States, and around the globe. Alongside symphony orchestras, ballet troupes, local students, and an ever-expanding roster of guest artists, the JLCO has toured over 300 cities across six continents. Guest conductors have included Benny Carter, John Lewis, Jimmy Heath, Chico O’Farrill, Ray Santos, Paquito D’Rivera, Jon Faddis, Robert Sadin, David Berger, Gerald Wilson, and Loren Schoenberg. The JLCO has been voted best Big Band in the annual DownBeat Readers Poll from 2013-16. In 2015 Jazz at Lincoln Center announced the launch of Blue Engine Records, a new platform to make its archive of recorded concerts available to jazz audiences everywhere. The first release from Blue Engine Records, Live in Cuba, was recorded on a historic 2010 trip to Havana by the JLCO and was released in October 2015. Big Band Holidays was released in December 2015, The Abyssinian Mass came out in March 2016, The Music of John Lewis was released in March 2017, and the JLCO’s Handful of Keys came out in September 2017. Blue Engine’s United We Swing: Best of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Galas features the Wynton Marsalis Septet and an array of special guests, with all proceeds going toward Jazz at Lincoln Center’s education initiatives. Blue Engine’s most recent album releases include 2018’s Una Noche con Ruben Blades, 2019’s Betty Carter’s The Music Never Stops, and 2019’s Bolden (Official Soundtrack), composed and performed by Wynton Marsalis. Prior to Blue Engine Records, the JLCO released 14 other internationally distributed recordings.

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