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.