WNO members embark on cultural exchange to Japan

Showa University students in Perth with WAYJO in November 2023

Six members of the Wednesday Night Orchestra as well as General Manager Monique Douglas and Artistic Director Mace Francis are heading to Shin-Yurigaoka just outside of central Tokyo for rehearsals, performances, and cultural activities, as part of an on-going exchange between WAYJO and Showa University of Music in Japan.

The musicians heading on this week-long exchange are Ben Shelley (drums), Bob Tweedie (piano), Holly Forster (alto sax), Matt Knight (trumpet), Naoko Uemoto (baritone sax) and Taj Johnstone (trombone).

Directed by Masa Ikeda and Mace Francis, SHOWAYJO – as its affectionately known, was last together in November when six musicians from Showa came to Perth and performed at the Perth International Jazz Festival’s Jazz Picnic in the Park and recorded at Loop Studio. Listen to the release HERE.

The Showa University of Music, the Showa Graduate School of Music and the Showa College of Music are part of the Tosei Gakuen Educational Foundation, which is renowned for its forward-thinking in music education in the areas of traditional western classical music, musical theatre, ballet, and jazz and popular music.

This exchange is made possible through our Principal Partner, North West Shelf Gas.


Sarah McKenzie reunites with WAYJO

WAYJO is excited to collaborate with the Perth International Jazz Festival to bring the acclaimed jazz pianist, composer, and singer Sarah McKenzie (USA) back to Perth as part of her Australian tour.

Sarah McKenzie by Karen Hill.

Sarah has recently released her sixth album of Brazilian-inspired jazz titled ‘Without You,’ blending “inventive reworkings of classic songs from (Antonio Carlos) Jobim and others with four of McKenzie’s original compositions” – Jazzwise ★★★★

James Morrison has described her as a “once-in-a-generation talent and music marvel.” Her pronounced lyrical sense of swing has drawn comparisons to Blossom Dearie and Diana Krall.

“I’ve always loved the music of Brazil, Tom Jobim, Elis Regina, and of course Astrud Gilberto,” says Sarah McKenzie. “What I especially love about Jobim is the simplicity and clarity of his melodies, songs that one can remember and sing.”

Sarah will perform over two nights at the Liberty Theatre in the heart of Perth. Tucked away on Barrack Street, the Liberty Theatre opened as Perth’s first art house cinema in 1954. Rarely open to the public, these performances offer a unique opportunity to experience live jazz music in a vintage architectural gem.

On Friday, May 10, Sarah will be joined by renowned Perth-based jazz musicians Kristian Borring (guitar), Nick Abbey (bass), and Pete Evans (drums) for an intimate performance. Then on Saturday, May 11, WAYJO’s 18-piece Monday Night Orchestra bring the big band energy, with bold brass and bass sections to accompany her smooth Brazilian jazz songs and soulful ballads.

This is also a special reunion between Sarah and WAYJO, while she was born in Melbourne, she studied at the WA Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) and WAYJO is proud to call her an alum. In fact, the last time she performed with WAYJO was in 2012 with Mike Stewart, before she relocated to America when she was awarded a full scholarship to Berklee School of Music in Boston.

Jazz afficionados and admirers of classic Brazilian tracks such as Jobim’s ‘Corcovado’ (Quiet Nights), ‘Once I Loved,’ and ‘The Girl From Ipanema,’ shouldn’t miss these performances of what Peter Quinn at Jazzwise calls “the most bittersweet gems in the Jobim canon.”


Maylands Hall

Join our team: Business Development Manager

WAYJO is offering an exciting part-time opportunity for a dynamic individual to join our dedicated office team located in Maylands as a Business Development Manager.

As Australia’s premier youth jazz orchestra and one of the nation’s longest-running arts organisations, WAYJO is seeking an experienced professional to collaborate closely in a part-time capacity with our Executive Team and Board, as well as key external stakeholders.

The chosen candidate will play a pivotal role in shaping WAYJO’s future, focusing on developing and managing innovative income generation strategies, fostering philanthropic and corporate partnerships, and expanding our supporter base. This position presents a unique opportunity to make a substantial impact on the growth and development of emerging young jazz musicians.

This position suits a strategic thinker with a passion for cultivating partnerships and excelling in creating sustainable income streams through business development plans.

To learn more about this exciting opportunity and to apply, please review the job application on Seek.

For enquiries, please contact WAYJO.


2023 Composer in Residence: Max Grynchuk

Insights from our 2023 Composer in Residence Max Grynchuk

Often, when audiences attend a WAYJO concert, they experience the polished, well-rehearsed, and refined versions of the works.

2023 Composer in Residence Max Grynchuk

However, behind each new piece lies a lengthy process of composition. From finding inspiration and crafting the title to recognising musical influences, forming a narrative or ‘story’ behind the work, writing and re-writing the music, collaborating with band members, and so much more—it’s a comprehensive journey to create just a single new work.

That’s why we wanted to give an insight on what it takes to be a composer writing for a big band, and who better to ask than our 2023 Composers-in-Residence?

We recently had the opportunity to ask Max Grynchuk for his experience of crafting his new work, ‘Once Upon A Time in the West,’ for WAYJO as part of our Composer in Residence program.


Max Grynchuk

Can you share a bit about your background as a composer?

I began composing music at age 9 by writing short piano etudes. I picked up the trumpet in high school and joined my school’s big band program. From there I quickly became absorbed in big band music and began trying to write for the ensemble. I was fortunate to have amazing support and mentoring from various teachers and band directors and by the time I finished high school I had written several charts. I continued to write for big bands throughout my time at university and have been lucky enough to record three albums with my own big band. I currently have over 40 charts available for purchase on my website and have sold music to bands and music programs in Japan, US, UK, and France amongst others.

Tell us about your composition and where the inspiration came from.

I like to write music with a story arc in mind, and when it came to writing this commission, I wanted to do something completely different to what I had previously written. Since I was writing for a band in WA, I thought it would be fitting to write a spaghetti-western big band chart. I listened to a variety of music and watched clips from a handful of spaghetti-western movies to get an idea of how I could incorporate these tropes into a big band work. I wrote a loose plot synopsis which I used to base the structure of my piece on. From there I wrote the music to reflect what was happening in the story, covering everything from a bar-brawl to a duel, and even a train heist. The name of the tune came to me whilst jogging, so when I got home, I was disappointed to find out that I was stealing the title from one of the most famous spaghetti-western films of all time.

Can you share some of your musical influences?

I have been listening to big band music since early high school so there are many amazing writers who have inspired me. Bob Curnow’s arrangements of the music of Pat Metheny and Lyle Mays had a big influence on my writing, particularly with how he utilised the ensemble. Other writers and arrangers I listened to a lot throughout my formative years were Michel Camilo, Bert Joris, Toshiko Akiyoshi, and Maria Schneider, as well as playing a lot of Bob Minter, Thad Jones, and Sammy Nestico charts in various big bands during high school and uni.

What has been your biggest lesson/takeaway as WAYJO’s Composer in Residence?

I really enjoyed the process of writing for such an advanced ensemble where there weren’t really any limitations to what I could write. Also, having previously had to write to a strict deadline, I found that I was able to refine my process and complete this commission with much less stress than previous projects of a similar nature.

How have you worked with the Musical Director and orchestra to bring your composition to life?

I was lucky enough to fly over from Adelaide to listen to the band record the piece. It was nice to be able to offer my thoughts on a few things, but also great to see how Mace and the band interpreted what I had written and how they added their own character to it. It was definitely great to be there in person on the day to clarify parts of my whacky vision, and hopefully the band found that some of the chart made more sense after that.

Where to from here? What other musical projects are you working on?

I am currently chipping away on a few new compositions for a gig with my big band in October. I’m hoping that set will be the foundation for a new album which I would love to record sometime in 2025. Having previously recorded three albums in the space of two years, I’m aiming to do things at a less frantic pace this time around.


2023 Composer in Residence: Jessica Carlton

Insights from our 2023 Composer in Residence Jessica Carlton

Often, when audiences attend a WAYJO concert, they experience the polished, well-rehearsed, and refined versions of the works.

2023 Composer in Residence Jessica Carlton

However, behind each new piece lies a lengthy process of composition. From finding inspiration and crafting the title to recognising musical influences, forming a narrative or ‘story’ behind the work, writing and re-writing the music, collaborating with band members, and so much more—
it’s a comprehensive journey to create just a single new work.

That’s why we wanted to give an insight on what it takes to be a composer writing for a big band, and who better to ask than our 2023 Composers-in-Residence?

We recently had the opportunity to ask Jessica Carlton for her experience of crafting her new work, ‘Yemembra Moora,’ for WAYJO as part of our Composer in Residence program. Jessica moved to Perth in 2018 and has previously been a tutor with our Progressions program.


Can you share a bit about your background as a composer?

I started composing just out of high school in 2010/2011. I was very new to it at that stage and was just experimenting and finding what kind of process worked for me. It was a few more years before I developed confidence as a composer to start performing my own music, but when I did, I fell in love with composing. I love that I can think of melodies and concepts and bring it to an ensemble of musicians who can interpret it and bring it to life with me. In my second year at university, I performed an all-original set of music for my recital and it went well so I decided to record an album of my compositions that year. Since then, I have been composing for many different instrumentations and settings and growing and developing as a composer.

Tell us about your composition and where the inspiration came from.

This composition was my first big band composition so it really stretched me as a composer. I thought of a melody and harmonic progression that I liked and then spent some time listening to different big band records to try to expand my ears and ideas before tackling it as a big band piece. The tune itself is inspired by the idea of introspection. The title, ‘Yemembra Moora,’ is taken from words my daughter says to mean ‘remember’ and ‘mirror’.

Can you share some of your musical influences?

I have many musical influences and at different points in my life, I have been drawn to different musicians’ work. Some that have been really constant in my life have been Jakob Bro, Paul Motian, and Andrea Keller.

What has been your biggest lesson/takeaway as WAYJO’s Composer in Residence?

My biggest takeaway has been that I can do things that I didn’t think I would be able to do. I always thought that big band composition was ‘out of my wheelhouse’, but I was wrong. I really enjoyed the process, and I learned so much through it, and I feel more confident to compose for large instrumentations now.

How have you worked with the Musical Director and orchestra to bring your composition to life?

The Musical Director encouraged me to bring my music to the orchestra even before it was ready. I was grateful that I had this opportunity to do this and not be judged for an unfinished composition. It is rare to be able to do this and be able to workshop a composition live with a large ensemble. It really helped me with the composition process.

Where to from here? What other musical projects are you working on?

I have been writing all new music for my Masters project which is all about transforming visual art and poems into compositions and improvisation. I recently recorded six compositions of this music and will then write my thesis about my findings. I am also pregnant with baby number two, due in July, so I will be preparing for her birth.


2023 Composer in Residence: Oliver Taylor

Insights from our 2023 Composer in Residence Oliver Taylor

Often, when audiences attend a WAYJO concert, they experience the polished, well-rehearsed, and refined versions of the works.

2023 Composer in Residence Oliver Taylor

However, behind each new piece lies a lengthy process of composition. From finding inspiration and crafting the title to recognising musical influences, forming a narrative or ‘story’ behind the work, writing and re-writing the music, collaborating with band members, and so much more—it’s a comprehensive journey to create just a single new work.

That’s why we wanted to give an insight on what it takes to be a composer writing for a big band, and who better to ask than our 2023 Composers-in-Residence?

We recently had the opportunity to ask Oliver Taylor for his experience of crafting his new work, ‘Epoch,’ for WAYJO as part of our Composer in Residence program. Oliver has been a band member with WAYJO since 2020, and is a saxophonist in the Wednesday Night Orchestra.


Can you share a bit about your background as a composer?

I have been composing and arranging for the last 6 years for jazz, contemporary and funk ensembles. I write my own original music and have performed it with my quartet and with the contemporary music band “Bad Neighbour”. I have also composed and arranged music for chamber ensembles and, thanks to WAYJO, I was able to write and record my very first big band composition.

Tell us about your composition and where the inspiration came from.

Score extract from Oliver Taylor’s ‘Epoch.’

My composition “Epoch” is inspired by how my recent graduation from studying has led to a new chapter in my life, one where I find myself experiencing a newfound freedom to pursue music in a way that is much more personal way. This piece surmises the feeling of a musical “open road” and the newfound creative possibilities of being a musician in today’s world. The composition itself feels very much like a journey and is orchestrated to feel light and hopeful yet driving.

Can you share some of your musical influences?

I’ve always loved the sound of Maria Schneider orchestra, especially the album The Thompson Fields. I love how light and sweet the orchestration is. I am also influenced by the compositions of impressionistic pianists Maurice Ravel and Claude Debussy and how they orchestrate musical stories. Some of my other influences include the likes of Jan Gabarak, Keith Jarrett, Ornette Coleman, Ambrose Akinmusire, Charlie Haden, and Carla Bley among others.

What has been your biggest lesson/takeaway as WAYJO’s Composer in Residence?

My biggest takeaway from my residency with WAYJO is that a composition is always evolving, and you can’t be attached to what you think is you ‘final version.’ Having the opportunity to workshop my piece with the band and listen to the valuable feedback from Mace and the band members made me reorchestrate and rearrange the musical material in a way that lends itself to the composition’s overall playability and fluidity. When it comes to writing big band charts, less is certainly more.

How have you worked with the Musical Director and orchestra to bring your composition to life? And how did you find writing for an orchestra you are a part of?

I have been a member of WAYJO since 2020 and have been lucky enough to play the compositions of previous Composers in Residence. I think these experiences helped me understand what style of big band music I like and what a strong, playable original composition should look like. It was an absolute joy and privilege to have my Wednesday Night Orchestra family workshop, record and perform my music. It is incredibly difficult logistically to have a strong, well-rehearsed big band available in Perth and I’m grateful that I can have some of my closest friends play my music and give their valuable feedback.

Where to from here? What other musical projects are you working on?

I am currently composing and arranging cross-genre music for smaller groups, including my own quintet. I hope to record my debut album soon and am lucky enough to be playing on my close friend and fellow WAYJO member Matthew Knight’s debut album this year. I plan to do a master’s in music in Europe in the next five years, where I hope to refine my instrumental expression and expand my compositional palette. Other than this, I plan to keep making music in the broad and unique music scene that Perth has to offer.


Emily Stokoe returns to WAYJO as Events and Programs Manager

WAYJO is delighted to welcome Emily Stokoe back to the office team as the new Events and Programs Manager.

Emily Stokoe is WAYJO’s new Events and Programs Manager.

Having previously served as WAYJO’s Event and Logistics Manager in 2021/2022, Emily spent last year as Company Stage Manager and Associate Producer for Barking Gecko Theatre. The executive team are therefore thrilled to announce her return in a new capacity as WAYJO’s Events and Programs Manager.

Emily brings a diverse range of experience to the role and expertise in the Perth arts scene. With a foundation in Stage Management training from the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) and a proficiency in Producing and Design from the WA Screen Academy, Emily’s 14-year career weaves across various domains, including theatre, dance, festivals, local government events, site-specific activations, and extensive touring.

Despite her numerous freelance engagements, it was Emily’s love of WAYJO’s band members and staff, the privilege of regularly listening to live big band music, and her passion for creating opportunities and safe spaces for young people, that has drawn her back to the team.

Emily recently worked tirelessly on the team to put together the 2024 WAYJO band camp (clocking up more than 20,000 steps in one day!) and is looking forward to welcoming audiences to WAYJO’s concert programming soon.

If you’d like to get in contact with Em, you can send her an email, or phone the office on 08 9471 1950, where she’ll be working three days a week.


Appointment of Lucy Iffla as Operations Coordinator

Please join WAYJO in welcoming Lucy Iffla as the new Operations Coordinator. Bringing a wealth of experience in events management and administration to the role, Lucy has joined the team to deliver this year’s events and Pathways Programs.

Lucy Iffla. Photo credit: Cass Evans-Ocharern.

Audiences will recognise Lucy from her years behind the mic, as a jazz and folk vocalist and songwriter. She first auditioned with WAYJO as a 14-year-old, and her perseverance paid off when she received a position as the vocalist of the MinterEllison Monday Night Orchestra. With WAYJO she toured internationally to Japan, performed for many years across WA, and eventually worked her way through to the Wednesday Night Orchestra.

Lucy says of her history with WAYJO:

“WAYJO has supported me through so many opportunities over the past five years, developed my vocal and performance techniques, and created memories I will keep forever.”

As Operations Coordinator, Lucy is your first point of contact and will liaise with the artistic team and band members. She’ll also play a big role in the coordination of the Pathways Programs, in collaboration with key tutors and Musical Directors.

If you’d like to get in contact with Lucy, you can send her an email, or phone the office on 08 9471 1950.


Bayden Adams announced as WAYJO’s 2024 Assistant Musical Director

WAYJO is delighted to announce Bayden Adams as the Assistant Musical Director for 2024. The annual role, sponsored by the Simon Lee Foundation, provides a unique mentoring traineeship opportunity for a young and promising musical director.

Bayden Adams, currently pursuing a double degree in Music and Business at the University of Western Australia, brings a wealth of experience and passion to the position. With a background as a composer, conductor, and trumpeter, Bayden is looking forward to introducing his unique style to WAYJO.

In this year’s program, Bayden will focus on refining his skills in conducting a large orchestral band, programming repertoire for an 18-piece big band, and developing the leadership skills essential for inspiring the talents of the band members.

Having begun his conducting career nine years ago with his school’s Concert Bands and Big Bands, Bayden has quickly gained impressive experience. In 2021, he took on the role of Assistant Musical Director for the Bunbury City Band (Brass Band) and is currently a member of WA’s premier brass band, WA Brass, as well as the Musical Director of their Junior Band, ‘WA Brass Juniors.’

Bayden has participated in various conducting masterclasses by esteemed figures such as Ingrid Martin (New Zealand Assistant Conductor in residence), Dale Pointon (IMSS DOE Coordinator of Ensembles and Instrumental Pedagogy Lecturer – UWA), Jessica Gethin (West Australian Ballet Principal Conductor), Alan Lourens (UWA Head of Conservatorium of Music), as well as Matt Klohs, Bob Childs, and the University of British Columbia’s Director of Bands, Rob Taylor. As well as being a conductor, Bayden is a published composer.

WAYJO is thrilled to welcome Bayden Adams to the role of Assistant Musical Director for 2024 and looks forward to the wealth of experience he brings to the stage.


Welcome to our 2024 orchestra members

WAYJO’s Pathways Education Program was developed to engage with young and emerging jazz artists.
 
An integral part of the annual program, WAYJO is proud to facilitate the Northern Corridor Training Band for high school-aged students (which is currently accepting enrolments), and the Progressions Program for individuals on the outskirts of jazz.
 
The programs are designed to enhance and develop the skills of aspiring musicians through artistic mentorship, guided workshops and rehearsals, and quality performance experiences in a big band setting. In addition, participants connect with peers as well as professionals in the music industry, bringing concepts from the classroom to life.
 
WAYJO is thrilled to announce, therefore, that six of the newest band members in the three main orchestras have come through the Pathways Programs.

They are:
Aavi Barker | MNO | Trumpet
Dexter Bell | MNO | Alto Saxophone
Jaeden Carlyon | TNO | Baritone Saxophone

Isabelle Cranley Dixon | MNO | Tenor Saxophone
Ella Dias | TNO | Bass

Ryley Ford | MNO | Trombone

WAYJO’s 2024 Orchestra Members

WAYJO is delighted to have so many returning members in the three big bands: WAYJO’s MinterEllison Monday Night Orchestra (MNO), led by Ricki Malet; St John of God Healthcare Tuesday Night Orchestra (TNO) with Musical Director Marty Pervan; and, directed by Mace Francis, the WAYJO Wednesday Night Orchestra (WNO).
 
A huge welcome, as well, to the thirteen newest band members, for whom this will be their first year with WAYJO.

See the full list of orchestra members and their instruments.