The Winnipeg Jazz Orchestra (WJO) is Canada’s first community-based, non-profit professional jazz orchestra. Founded in 1997 (registered charity in 2000), the WJO has matured to become an important part of Winnipeg’s cultural landscape, reflected in the ongoing support the organization receives from the Manitoba Arts Council, the Winnipeg Arts Council, the Winnipeg Foundation, and other sponsors.
The mandate of the Winnipeg Jazz Orchestra is to be an instrumental force in the promotion and development of big band jazz in Manitoba and beyond, through performance, composition, recording and education.
The WJO has been fulfilling this mandate in the following ways: 1. through the presentation of a regular concert series that reflects the diversity of approaches to big band performance and repertoire; 2. in hiring Manitoba’s best professional jazz musicians to make up the ensemble, and allowing for a rotation of personnel to bring in “up and coming musicians”; 3. by the presentation of the best big band jazz compositions and arrangements available; 4. through the commission of new compositions and arrangements for big band by Canadian and Manitoban composers (over 100 have been written for the WJO to date); 5. in our collaborations with national and international guest performers and conductors that have informed and developed the ensemble, musicians and audience; 6. through our educational outreach programs and projects: school ensembles perform at each WJO concert (pre-covid), our High School Honour Jazz Band project (a collaboration with Jazz Winnipeg Festival), and our big band workshops held in several Winnipeg schools; 7. through recording the ensemble and its original music (our 5th recording was just released this spring).
Congratulations to front-line staff members: Margaret, Marcia, Debbie and Joan for completing the Indigenous awareness training course for the workplace from the First Nations University of Canada.