2023 Composer in Residence: Oliver Taylor

Applications for the 2024 Composer in Residence program are now open, and close at 5:00pm AWST, Friday 5th April 2024.

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.

Cultural exchange with Showa University of Music, Japan

Directed by Masa Ikeda and Mace Francis, the WA Youth Jazz Orchestra and Showa University of Music in Japan are together celebrating culture and their shared love of music in Perth next month – continuing a 10-year relationship, which started in 2014.

This 9-day cultural exchange from 1 November 2023 features 10 members from the Wednesday Night Orchestra (WNO) and six musicians from Showa, as well as the hosting of an Associate Professor and Assistant from the university, which is located in Shin-Yurigaoka just outside of central Tokyo.

WNO members taking part includes Aaron Caldwell (Alto Sax), Oliver Taylor (Tenor Sax), Ethan Nankivell (Tenor Sax), Naoko Uemoto (Baritone sax), Dusan Cuculoski (Trumpet), Ethan Lamb (Trumpet), Matthew Knight (Trumpet), Lindsay Bush (Trombone), Jules Arnold (Trombone) and Fred Hostman (Bass Trombone).

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.

Thanks to the support of the North West Shelf Gas this cultural exchange includes an all-expenses trip for the travelling musicians, rehearsals, a recording session at Loop Studio, cultural activities and sightseeing as well as private and public performances.

The two groups will also be coming together to form a cross-cultural big band ‘SHOWAYJO’ at the Perth International Jazz Festival’s Jazz Picnic in the Park on Sunday 5 November at 2:15pm.

Playing classic big band repertoire as well as premiering a new work collectively composed by orchestra members, this free concert in Hyde Park also includes a performance by our Northern Corridor Band at 1pm, a jazz parade, WAAPA Mingus Ensemble & Jazz Vocal Ensemble and The Vampires (NSW).

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

Jazz Picnic in the Park
From 12pm, Sunday 5 November
Hyde Park, Perth

For more info

Photos courtesy of Consulate-General of Japan in Perth

WAYJO NC plays The Ellington

The WA Youth Jazz Orchestra Northern Corridor (NC) Band assists in the development of young musicians who have an interest in playing big band jazz. This ensemble also focuses on the growth of its members through developing deeper musical understanding, leadership, and camaraderie.

Currently, the band is comprised of students from 12 different schools across Perth and Peel region, with students travelling from Mandurah to Duncraig to take part in the weekly rehearsals.

The band is directed by Jess Herbert who’s been involved with WAYJO for 14 years! She originally started out as a member of the St John of God Health Care Tuesday Night Orchestra (TNO) or Big Band Orchestra as it was previously called, and played baritone sax in the band from 2009-2011. She then started working with WAYJO in their administration team from 2014 to 2021 and now holds her dream position as a Musical Director!

Jess says being a part of WAYJO is so much more than you might think. “It’s about community, opportunity and above all, a love of big band jazz. I count myself very lucky to have been involved with this organisation for so many years,” she says.

Ahead of their show coming up at The Ellington Jazz Club this weekend, Jess fills us in all things NC.

How long have you been music director of NC?
Jess Herbert: I have been the MD since August of 2022.

Tell us how the NC band has developed this year
JH: The band have improved exponentially over the course of the last year and a half. The level of repertoire they are performing, their musicianship both as individuals and as an ensemble and their dedication to the ensemble has just been so inspiring to watch. It’s really important in big band jazz to develop leadership within the ensemble as well as musical camaraderie. Allowing my students to have artistic license, encouraging their enthusiasm and facilitating musical discussion has allowed the group to really grow, and lean into their understanding of what it means to play big band jazz. It’s so much more than just turning up each week and reading the dots on the page. We’re seeing the students grow not just as musicians, but as leaders and it’s incredible to witness.

What’s the repertoire for this Sunday’s concert?
JH: We have a very diverse set of music for our audience this Sunday! We’re playing classic tunes from Basie and Ellington through to some original compositions by Perth based saxophonist and composer, Gemma Farrell. It’s going to be a power hour of big band music through the decades.

How will this concert differ from their previous ones this year?
JH: This is our first featured concert in a music venue. So far this year we have played at Joondalup Festival, the WA Schools Jazz Festival and with Dave Theak at St Stephens last month alongside the St Stephens Big Band and the MinterEllison Monday Night Orchestra, but we have never played our own standalone gig before! This is a landmark performance for the band.

Is the band excited to be playing at Perth’s most iconic jazz club?
JH: Absolutely! The Ellington Jazz Club, with its illustrious 15-year history, is renowned for hosting some of the finest jazz performances from across the globe. For these budding artists, the opportunity to showcase their skills at this iconic venue represents a milestone in their burgeoning careers. I’m not sure how we’re going to fit them all on the stage yet, but you’ll just have to come to the concert to see if we can pull it off!

What’s on the cards for NC next year?
I’m so passionate about this ensemble and fostering the next generation of jazz musicians. We start 2024 planning next month and I do have some exciting things planned but you’ll just have to watch this space for now…

WAYJO NC plays The Ellington
3pm, Sunday 29 October – The Ellington Jazz Club, Perth
Click here for tickets


Photos by David P Cox


Q&A with MNO musical director Ricki Malet

Musical Director of the MinterEllison Monday Night Orchestra, Ricki Malet, reveals what’s in store for this week’s concerts with Sydney saxophonist David Theak. 

Why are you excited to work with David Theak?
Ricki Malet: Dave is an amazing composer, arranger, musician and educator. He has run his own big band, The Jazzgroove Mothership Orchestra, as well as the Sydney Con Big Band and is now involved with the Australian National Youth Jazz Orchestra. It is going to be fantastic for the MinterEllison Monday Night Orchestra to be able to spend a week learning from him.

For many of the MinterEllison Monday Night band members, this will be their first regional tour, what do you enjoy most about the touring program and taking the big band to play in front of new audiences?
RM: I enjoy watching the growth of the band over the tour! As the younger of the bands they really develop confidence in their abilities from working with schools to performing in front of new audiences.

We’re already into September and the MinterEllison Monday Night Orchestra has now performed together quite a few times, how have you seen them develop as a big band?
RM: As always, it’s the most rewarding part of being an MD with WAYJO. I get a front row seat to them building their confidence and learning to gel musically together. There were a lot of first time WAYJO members and they have grown a lot, but people will have to come see for themselves.

What’s your favourite piece of music to direct?
RM: At the moment I’m really enjoying doing Andrew Murray’s arrangement of ‘The Shadow of Your Smile’, it’s a fantastic version that we did some years ago when Andrew wielded with the band and I love bringing it out from time to time.

Is there anything you can tell audiences about what they can expect from this week’s performance program?
RM: Amazingly talented, young musicians! You must come and see them with your own eyes and ears!!

Don’t Get Around Much Anymore: David Theak Meets WAYJO
7:30pm, Thursday 14 September -Fishtrap Theatre, Mandurah Performing Arts Centre
MinterEllison MNO with David Theak
Click here for tickets

Don’t Get Around Much Anymore: David Theak Meets WAYJO
7:30pm, Saturday 16 September – Downstairs at The Maj
MinterEllison MNO with David Theak
Click here for tickets

WAYJO presents Swingin’ at St Stephen’s, proudly supported by St Stephen’s School
7:30pm, Friday 15 September
St Stephen’s School Theatre, Duncraig
Click here for tickets

Don’t Get Around Much Any More: David Theak meets WAYJO

Performing the music of Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Frank Sinatra and more, our MinterEllison Monday Night Orchestra will be joined on stage by the extraordinary David Theak – a highly accomplished saxophonist and leading Australian jazz educator from Sydney.

Head of Jazz at the Sydney Conservatorium, co-artistic director of the Australian National Youth Jazz Orchestra, and artistic director of the Sydney Conservatorium Jazz Festival, David Theak is a passionate advocate for big bands and has toured the world with his quartet, Theak-tet. He was recently shortlisted for UMO (Helsinki Jazz Orchestra) and WDR (West German Radio) Big Bands as a saxophonist. He has an upcoming Naxos Jazz project with German composer Florian Ross and strings in 2024.

As he pays tribute to the great tenor saxophonists of the swing era, and maybe even sings a song or two – these will be two very special evenings of vintage rhythms, sophisticated sounds, and timeless classics on 14 and 15 September.

On Friday 16 September David performs Swingin’ at St Stephen’s at St Stephen’s School Duncraig. This night of jazz classics features WAYJO’s MinterEllison Monday Night Orchestra, joined on stage by David Theak on saxophone with support from WAYJO’s Northern Corridor Band and the St Stephen’s Swing Band.

David said, “I can’t wait to swing with WAYJO in September….Australia’s most prominent youth big band, directed by a bunch of jazz legends…anytime I play with WAYJO, it’s a joyous occasion.”

WAYJO Artistic Director & Musical Director, Mace Francis, said “The MinterEllison Monday Night Orchestra has members that have ‘graduated’ from the WAYJO Northern Corridor Band, so it’s very fitting for this performance to take place where they rehearse each week. Rehearsals are held in the big band format and are focused on jazz phrasing, articulation, and artistic expression as well as improvisational techniques and playing a wide range of musical genres including jazz, funk, and Latin charts.

“Alongside regular rehearsals are masterclasses, performance opportunities, collaborations and mentoring from guest artists both from Australia and abroad, WAAPA staff and experienced WAYJO Alumni. We are thrilled to welcome David to feature in this exciting performance.”

Don’t Get Around Much Anymore: David Theak Meets WAYJO
7:30pm, Thursday 14 September -Fishtrap Theatre, Mandurah Performing Arts Centre
MinterEllison MNO with David Theak
Click here for tickets

Don’t Get Around Much Anymore: David Theak Meets WAYJO
7:30pm, Saturday 16 September – Downstairs at The Maj
MinterEllison MNO with David Theak
Click here for tickets

WAYJO presents Swingin’ at St Stephen’s, proudly supported by St Stephen’s School
7:30pm, Friday 15 September
St Stephen’s School Theatre, Duncraig
Click here for tickets

Art Music Awards Finalist

The WA Youth Jazz Orchestra is proud to have been announced as a finalist in the prestigious Art Music Awards by APRA AMCOS and the Australian Music Centre. 

WAYJO is a finalist in the Art Music Awards
WAYJO is a finalist in the Art Music Awards.

The Art Music Awards celebrates individuals, groups and organisations in the Australian music community, recognising excellence among Australia’s finest creators and performers in contemporary classical, jazz, experimental music and sound art.

WAYJO was nominated for the Award for Excellence in Music Education for our 2022 Annual Pathways Programs.

Artistic Director Mace Francis, and winner of the WA Luminary Award in 2022, says of the nomination:

“We are very excited to be a finalist in the APRA/AMCOS and Australian Music Centre Art Music Awards this year. It is so nice to be recognised nationally for the great work we are doing here in WA, inspiring and encouraging young musicians work towards a future in this industry. We are very proud of our work and very proud of our Pathways leaders, Gemma Farrell and Jessica Herbert who are working so closely with the next generation of WA music stars.”

Congratulations to all of the nominees, and especially to our fellow West Australians Lachlan Skipworth and Jamie Oehlers.

The 2023 Art Music Awards will take place at Carriageworks on Tuesday 15 August 2023. See the full list of finalists.