Canada’s first community-based,
Dr. Richard Gillis and Sasha Boychouk founded the Winnipeg Jazz Orchestra (WJO) in 1997, inspired by a vision of forming a professional big band with the best emerging and veteran musicians in Winnipeg.
Gillis and Boychouk were the right people at the right time, but the WJO also owes its roots to the collective efforts of many passionate stakeholders including the musicians, board members, volunteers and administrators who sensed a potential audience that was not being served. Their familiarity with the Winnipeg music environment (the key players, the marketplace, and the community’s appetite for jazz) gave them confidence in the capabilities of local musicians and out of that natural savvy and inherent enthusiasm, the WJO was born.
Commissioning new works and connecting with and inspiring students and young musicians is an integral part of the WJO vision. Today, the orchestra roster boasts 16 to 25 Winnipeg-based musicians whose combined resumes touch every corner of performance jazz locally, nationally, and around the world. WJO’s popularity has grown steadily over the course of the band’s history, from small, informal events at the West End Cultural Centre to a seven-concert season and sold-out performances at the Winnipeg Art Gallery.
The Winnipeg Jazz Orchestra is Generously Funded by:
The Winnipeg Jazz Orchestra acknowledges that we perform in venues on Treaty One Territory; the traditional lands of the Anishinaabe, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota, and Dene peoples and the homeland of the Métis Nation.
The Winnipeg Jazz Orchestra welcomes and shares its performance and creation of music - a universal language to all people irrespective of culture, race, sexuality, ability, language and gender.