Des Cannings

2020 WAYJO Composer Residencies Announced

Now in its 13th year, the WA Youth Jazz Orchestra’s Composer-in-Residence program has annually supported two emerging composers to develop new works for a large jazz ensemble, offering both generous commission fees and artistic mentorship.

This year we had a large number of applications which makes the decisions very difficult. This is a good indication that jazz composition is still alive and well in this country, especially seeing the quality of the submissions.

However, only two composers could be selected to fill the Associate Composer in Residence and the Composer in Residence positions. They were chosen based on their previous work, education, and proposed ideas for the commission.

WAAPA composition graduate Maddie Ivy from WA was successful as the 2020 WAYJO Associate Composer in Residence.

Maddy has a great grasp on orchestration and craft, as well as creative ways of using the big band and a variety of genres and musical settings.

Des Cannings from NSW will be the 2020 WAYJO Composer in Residence.

Des’s skill and craft in writing for big band instrumentation and respect for the tradition was displayed in his previous work. Des hopes to push his concepts of melodic development and creative form in ways he has not previously been able to do.

The WAYJO Wednesday Night Orchestra will premier and record these young composer’s exciting new works at the 2020 King St Corner Pocket Jazz Festival, running 30 July to 1 August.

For more information about WAYJO’s composer in residence program and commissioning, please visit


Des Cannings - WAYJO 2020 Composer in Residence
Des Cannings - 2020 WAYJO Composer in Residence


Maddie Ivy - 2020 WAYJO Associate Composer in Residence



Justine Thornley
WAYJO Marketing
+61 8 9471 1950

Mace Francis
WAYJO Artistic Director
+61 8 9471 1950

2020 Young Women in Jazz Registrations Open

WAYJO is calling for female identifying instrumentalist aged 14 to 25, interested in playing or studying jazz or improvised music, to take part in workshops to collaborate and learn with fellow female musicians.

Young Women in Jazz is an 8-week series of Saturday workshops, commencing 2 May 2020. Conducted in small groups with leading guest artists, educators and WAYJO Alumnae, these workshops build support networks, refine skills and increase performer confidence.

This year’s special guest tutors include the international multi-award winning vocalist Kristin Berardi, and legendary pianist/composer Judy Bailey.

A final public performance, held at the Ellington Jazz Club on Sunday 21 June, will showcase the participants newly acquired skills in a professional jazz venue setting.

Run in Perth since 2014, and developed in 2002 by Sydney Improvised Music Association (SIMA) and Dr. Sandy Evans OAM, the Young Women’s Jazz Workshops are specifically designed to inspire young women to play jazz and pursue a future in music.

WAYJO acknowledges program partners SIMA (Sydney Improvised Music Association) as well as St John of God Health Care for their continued support of the program here in Western Australia.

Registrations for the 2020 Young Women in Jazz Program open Friday 20 December, 2019 and close Friday 24 April, 2020.

For more information about the Young Women in Jazz program, or to register, please visit 



Gemma Farrell
Young Women in Jazz Program Coordinator

Justine Thornley
WAYJO Marketing
+61 8 9471 1950


Young Women in Jazz 2019
2019 Young Women in Jazz Participants

2020 WAYJO Internship

Looking to gain experience behind the scenes in the arts sector, or know someone who might be?

WAYJO is on the hunt for an intern for 2020! Our internships provide hands on experience in how a busy arts organisation runs.

WAYJO runs roughly 50 events per year including a major festival, international exchange programs, school workshops and performances, regional tours and corporate performances.

If you are enthusiastic about the arts, organised and think you have something to offer WAYJO, then please send Jess an email at by 5pm, Wednesday 22 January, 2020.

Ideally we are looking for people with some experience in Photoshop or InDesign, studying Marketing or Administration, and have a passion for the arts. As a bonus, our intern has the opportunity to see performances and gain important networks in the arts industry.

* Please note this is an unpaid Internship, with up to one day a week workload *


- Photo by Josh Wells

WAYJO 2020 Composer in Residence Applications Open

The WA Youth Jazz Orchestra (WAYJO) is offering two young jazz composers paid, professional development opportunities to develop new works and enhance music writing and conducting skills. Such opportunities are rarely offered in Australia.

WAYJO continues to support composers and generate original Australian content through its unique Composer-in-Residence program, presented for the twelfth consecutive year in 2020.

WAYJO's Composer in Residence program annually supports two young, emerging composers to develop new works for large jazz ensemble, offering both generous commission fees and artistic mentorship.

The program is run under the guidance of WAYJO’s Artistic Director, Dr Mace Francis (winner – APRA/AMCOS Jazz Work of the Year and international Scrivere in Jazz prize; finalist – Freedman Jazz Fellowship; nominee – Jazz ‘Bell’ Awards).

"Working with talented young Australian composers to bring their new works to life is a highlight in the WAYJO Wednesday Night Orchestra calendar. I am always amazed at what young people can create when they work together in a safe, focused and creative space. I look forward to hearing what is created again in 2020." - Dr Mace Francis.


COMPOSER IN RESIDENCE is open to any jazz composer aged 30 years or younger (as at 1st January 2020), residing in Australia. $4,000 is offered to develop three new, original compositions. Flights and accommodation included (unless a resident of the Perth metropolitan area).

ASSOCIATE COMPOSER IN RESIDENCE is open to any jazz composer aged 21 years or younger (as at 1st January 2020), residing in Western Australia. $2,000 is offered the Associate to develop two new, original compositions.

Both positions offer professional advice and mentoring, opportunities to rehearse and perform with WAYJO’s premier 18-piece big band, and an opportunity to premier the works at the 2020 King St Corner Pocket Jazz Festival.

This program is open to all Australian composers (citizens and permanent residents). Successful applicants will be required to compose the works (each six to eight minutes in duration) by Monday June 8, 2020, for performance by the WA Youth Jazz Orchestra Wednesday Night Orchestra.


Applications open Monday 18 November, 2019 and close Friday 17 January, 2020 at 5.00pm AWST. Successful applicants will be notified by Friday 24 January, 2020.

Please Note: The WAYJO offices will be closed for the holidays Friday 20 December, 2019 to Wednesday 8 January, 2020.

Find Out More

For more information, please visit, or contact the WAYJO office during business hours on +61 8 9471 1950.


2019 Composer in Residence Scott van Gemert leading his work at 2019 King St Corner Pocket Jazz Festival - Photos by Eliza Cowling.


Media Contact

Justine Thornley, WAYJO Marketing
+61 8 9471 1950

Enjoy Jazz Under the Stars this November

Three Big Bands in One Stellar Night of Jazz

The West Australian Youth Jazz Orchestra's highly successful American Jazz Story season culminates in their final show for 2019, Jazz Under the Stars at The Quarry Amphitheatre, Friday 22nd of November.

Celebrating a year of regional tours, high calibre US guest artists, and international exchanges to Japan and the USA, WAYJO’s three big bands bring the diverse styles of American Jazz to life in band-picked selections, offering highly-honed renditions of the music these rising stars of jazz adore.

From New York to Chicago, New Orleans to Las Vegas, Detroit, Hollywood and Cuba, WAYJO takes you on a jazz journey like no other this November.

Bring your picnic blanket, friends and family to enjoy some of the best big band jazz WA has to offer, all at one of Perth’s most picturesque venues.

Jazz Under the Stars
with the WAYJO MinterEllison Monday Night Orchestra, plus Tuesday and Wednesday Night Orchestras
Fri 22 Nov, 7.30pm
The Quarry Amphitheatre, City Beach
Tickets available from

Jazz Under the Stars - The Quarry Amphitheatre, Fri 22 Nov 2019

Special thanks to TW Creative for our 2019 'American Jazz Story' season poster designs.


Jazz Under the Stars 2018 - photos by Tom Greble

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Ricki MaletMonday Night Orchestra Musical Director, Ricki Mallet

“Jazz Under The Stars is the final performance for the WAYJO MinterElison Monday Night Orchestra (MNO). This is a great opportunity to present pieces of music from the concerts throughout of the year. This year MNO played a bunch of great shows from the New Orleans Concert at the start of the year, featuring New York Trombonist Mariel Bildsten, to playing some down and dirty blues Chicago style. In addition to reprising this repertoire we will also be performing a few new pieces featuring some Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald & Basie classics.

After a year of sold out performances, an extremely rewarding regional tour mixing with local communities and schools, and rehearsing every week, the band is fired up and ready for this final concert. Come down and see what WAYJO’s youngest band can do!”

Marty Pervan

Tuesday Night Orchestra Musical Director, Marty Pervan

"2019 has seen TNO performing a diverse variety of big band music sourced form the American big band tradition, including, Las Vegas/cabaret, Motown and Afro-Cuban styles as well as music from the great American songbook - jazz standards that have become an indelible part of the big band idiom.

Coming in hot off the back of an extremely successful regional tour, the TNO Quarry concert set will be a true journey through all of these sub-genre's and more. We are really looking forward to ripping up the stage with a bit of something for everyone that's bound to leave you smiling and tapping your feet."

Dr Mace Francis

Wednesday Night Orchestra Musical Director, and WAYJO Artistic Director, Dr Mace Francis

"2019 has been a landmark season for WAYJO, celebrating the birthplace of the music we love in 'An American Jazz Story'.

Each month our band members took audiences on a sonic journey to cities that contributed to musical styles that have not only influenced jazz, but also modern music.

We welcomed two very special guests from New York City, saxophonist Dick Oatts (of The Village Vanguard) and trombonist Mariel Bildsten (Evan Sherman Big Band) that workshopped our bands intensely, evoking the very best performances from each musician.

Diving deep and crafting their understanding of these historically significant works, WAYJO has already performed to over 8,000 ticketed attendees this season, experiencing higher attendance rates over the previous year.

I hope you'll come along to celebrate our final show for the 2019 season, and experience these rising stars of jazz and contemporary music before they’re snapped up interstate and overseas!"

The Artemis Project 2019

WAYJO's Young Women in Jazz Program Leader Gemma Farrell presents the Artemis Project - a new platform for Perth’s leading female jazz artists.

Showcasing music by Australia’s great female composers and arrangers, the Artemis Orchestra, joined by some of WA Youth Jazz Orchestra's emerging female performers, will open your ears to fresh new sounds.

We briefly spoke to Gemma ahead of the upcoming show, Saturday 19 October, at the Ellington Jazz Club in Perth.

Why/when did you start Artemis Orchestra?
I formed the Artemis Orchestra in 2017. I was preparing for that year's Young Women in Jazz workshops with Kate Pass, Talya Valenti and Alana Macpherson, three phenomenally talented jazz musicians and composers. I was reflecting on the work we do for the workshops, how much I enjoy working with these women, and how there is not enough opportunity to showcase the music of the incredible female jazz musicians we have in Perth. It was also the height of the #metoo era, so I wanted to create a safe space for women to make music together, and for their work as performing musicians and composers to be celebrated. I also think a lot about my own students when I put projects together. Normally, when you go out to see a big band in Perth, you see a band full of straight, white, able bodied men, and maybe a few women. I wanted to create a more diverse band so that all of my students could look at the band and think "yeah, I could do that one day." Most Perth boys have that already, but unfortunately I think with the way things are at the moment, a young girl is likely to look at your average Perth big band and think "wow, it's really hard to be a women in jazz." It's not that we don't have the talent either, as you will see from our gig, but it's just that no one else is shining a light on it.

Why did you call the ensemble Artemis?
I was uncomfortable with the idea of having the word "women" in the title, because we're not exclusive. As much as the project does showcase the work of Australian women, we don't have anywhere near as many women as men in the Perth jazz scene, so if we need the help of men I want them to feel welcome (in this concert we have two lovely men joining us). I would also warmly welcome any transgender or non-binary band members. I wanted to go for a Greek name to salute our Sydney friends, the Sirens big band, who did this a long time before we did. Eventually I read about Artemis, the goddess of hunting, wild animals, childbirth and protector of young women. The last part in particular seemed very apt, and I also liked the fact that there was the word "Art" in there as well.

Who's performing?
The band for the Saturday concert is made up of women who are professionals playing in the Artemis Orchestra, women who play with Artemis regularly but are also members of WAYJO, and WAYJO members. In putting the band together, I offered the opportunity to all the female members of WAYJO. When I found out how many were available, I looked at the gaps we had and hired members of Artemis to fill those gaps. We had two more gaps after that, there were no female drummers in WAYJO and Artemis' regular drummer was unavailable. We also needed another trombonist, and so to fill those gaps, we have the amazing Julius Rogers and Alex Parkinson from WAYJO's WNO joining us.

The full band is:
Vocals - Laura Igglesden and Lucy Iffla (Artemis and WAYJO)
Alto 1 - Tessa Campbell (Artemis and WAYJO)
Alto 2 - Shaniqa Ratnasigam and Holly Forster (WAYJO)
Tenor 1 - Claire Keet (Artemis and WAYJO)
Tenor 2 - Dee More (WAYJO)
Baritone - Jemima Mills (Artemis and WAYJO)
Trombone 1 - Alex Parkinson (WAYJO)
Trombone 2 - Holli Hatherley (Artemis and WAYJO)
Trombone 3 - Halle Mitchell (WAYJO)
Bass Trombone - Yvonne Gygli-Howell (Artemis)
Trumpet 1 - Charlie Teakle (Artemis and WAYJO)
Trumpet 2 - Jess Fiocco (Artemis)
Trumpet 3 - Jenny Bylund (WAYJO)
Trumpet 4 - Julia Wallace (Artemis and WAYJO)
Guitar - Candice Susnjar (Artemis)
Piano - Kirsten Symczycz (Artemis)
Bass - Kate Pass (Artemis)
Drums - Julius Rogers (WAYJO)
Percussion - Imogen Thompson (Artemis)

What might audience members most enjoy about this show?
We are performing some incredible compositions which they will likely have never heard before, some composed by members of the band including Candice Susnjar and Kate Pass. Everyone who wants to have a go at soloing is soloing. It's a going to be a real showcase of home grown talent. There a lots of powerful numbers, some Latin charts (my personal favourite thing is whenever Imogen whips out her triangle), it's two sets of bangers.

I'm so grateful to WAYJO for agreeing to do this once a year and I hope to see as many people there supporting this initiative as possible.

WAYJO Welcomes Japanese Exchange Musicians

SHOWAYJO is a special collaboration between musicians from the WA Youth Jazz Orchestra (WAYJO) in Perth, Western Australia and exchange partners from the Showa University of Music in Kawasaki, Japan.

These two groups come together to form a cross cultural big band playing classic big band repertoire as well as premiering a special new composition created by all the band members. WAYJO’s Ricki Malet (trumpet) and Showa University’s Masa Ikeda (trombone) will also share the stage with these young musicians.

Presented by WAYJO, and proudly supported by North West Shelf Gas over the past 5 years, this Cultural Exchange Through Music project joins talented performers across the hemispheres in a way the transcends linguistic boundaries.

The latest 10-track SHOWAYJO collaboration CD is FREE on entry (while stocks last). Preview a little of last year’s collaboration online HERE.

Enjoy this special night of live, cross-cultural jazz exploration, at one of Perth's finest jazz venues – for one night only!

SHOWAYJO: A Cross-Cultural Jazz Exploration
Sat 21 Sep, 7.00pm
The Ellington Jazz Club, Northbridge
Tickets from


WAYJO 2019-20 Associate Music Director Appointment

After a public call-out and rigorous selection process, the WA Youth Jazz Orchestra (WAYJO) is proud to announce Christopher Musitano has been selected as Associate Music Director for 2019-20, commencing September.

Proudly supported by the Simon Lee Foundation, the Assistant Music Director program offers a mentoring traineeship for a young and emerging musical director. The program is a rare opportunity for emerging band leaders to develop skills in conducting a large orchestral band, programming repertoire for an 18-piece big band, and develop the leadership skills required to inspire and enhance the skills and experience of band members.

WAYJO’s Artistic Director Dr Mace Francis selected Chris from a strong field of applications. “Chris has spent a long time with WAYJO as a musician, coming up through all the bands. This experience as Assistant Music Director will give Chris another perspective and set of skills he can take to his teaching and into the industry. We congratulate Chris on this appointment and welcome him back to the WAYJO family.”

Chris, who performed with WAYJO for 8-years, brings substantial knowledge and experience to the role, with a BA in Music Studies and Specialist Music Studies, and BMus (Hons) in Music - Jazz Performance.

“I applied for the role as I had seen the opportunities and growth that this position has allowed for those who have previously held it, especially during my time as a player in WAYJO. Getting to be on the conductor’s side of a band such as WAYJO is an opportunity not to be missed.”

“In addition to getting the experience of directing a big band, I am hoping that the position of Assistant Music Director opens me up to lots of new music and sounds that I haven’t heard before. Getting to hear new composers and players will allow me to better inform my own composing, teaching, and playing which will, in turn, help me to take on this position to the best of my ability.”

“I believe that WAYJO is an important musical institution in the Perth music scene as it fosters young talent while opening up young musicians to opportunities and music that they might not be exposed to in high school or university. Speaking personally, it helped and allowed me to grow in skill as a player, to meet and eventually play music with new friends, and fostered a love of jazz and big band music that then informed the direction of my career.”

“I think this position is important because it not only gives experience in running a band, but also gives those who have previously played in the band an opportunity to give back to the organization who helped them to get there in the first place.”

Applications for this paid traineeship position are invited annually. Head to, and subscribe to WAYJO eNews, to stay informed about all upcoming opportunities within the orchestras and organisation.

Chris Musitano (26) - WAYJO Associate Musical Director 2019-20.

#WAYJO2019 #MusicTraineeship

Media Contact
Justine Thornley
WAYJO Marketing
+61 (0)8 9471 1950

WAYJO in the USA - 2019 Brubeck Colony Scholarship Recipients

Two WAYJO members have returned from an incredible week of working with jazz luminaries and other exemplary students at the Brubeck Institute in Stockton, California.

The standard of the all the students and staff was jaw dropping, with Julia Wallace (pictured right) and Cameron Fermoyle (pictured left) doing a superlative job representing WAYJO in a spectacularly creative musical environment.

"Congratulations to the WAYJO team for continuing to provide these kind of opportunities to further develop Australia's place in the international jazz community. Massive thanks to Patrick Langham and Randi Sandoli for administrating and directing all involved at the Brubeck Summer Colony 2019." - Marty Pervan, WAYJO TNO Musical Director.

Some words from the participants;
"We had an incredible time at the Brubeck Colony. It was a whirlwind experience where we were in a busy environment surrounded by amazing American music students and a world class faculty, including Carl Allen, Steve Davis and Essiet Essiet. Ingrid Jensen worked with Cam's ensemble all week and he learnt so much from her unique and freeing teaching style. Steve Davis and Greg Tardy were my ensemble teachers and I feel so lucky to have had such professional and experienced musicians be so kind and encouraging the whole week."

"One of the things that the faculty would always mention is the importance of deep listening and researching. I think as young musicians now on steaming platforms and such, the process of checking out records has deteriorated, creating a lesser grasp of the history and mastery of the music."

"The Brubeck Colony has enlightened us on this idea through multiple rehearsals, masterclasses and clinics, with some of the world’s best, which I believe has begun maturing our sense of musicianship and has created a profound new hunger for learning and striving to achieve greatness everyday."

"Advice to people planning to audition and participate in the Brubeck Colony would be to learn as many tunes as humanly possible between now and then. It’ll mean you’ll be able to play in all the Jam sessions and get the most out of the rehearsals, so the faculty can spend the time on imparting their wisdom on deeper level."

Thank you very much WAYJO for this incredible opportunity - Julia & Cam!

WAYJO celebrates 10,000 patrons to His Majesty’s Theatre

WAYJO is delighted to announce that today the 10,000th ticket was issued to performances and events at His Majesty’s Theatre since they commenced their regular programming at the venue in 2017.

WAYJO’s annual ticketed program held Downstairs at The Maj features guest artists from around Australia and the world, including some of the world’s best jazz practitioners and offering outstanding experiences for young musicians to work with these artists.

The 2018 program, Women in Jazz, featured almost exclusively female guest artists, while the 2019 season, An American Jazz Story, has seen six out of the first seven performances played to sold-out houses.

Debuting in 2017, Jazz for Juniors, a program of concerts aimed at under 7 year olds and their carers, has achieved similar success, with many sold out performances. Meanwhile, WAYJO’s Education Concerts and Workshops, held Downstairs at the Maj, have allowed local students to gain an insight into the work of visiting guest artists and big band jazz music.

The King Street Corner Pocket Jazz Festival, debuting in 2018 as part of WAYJO’s 35th anniversary celebrations, saw His Majesty’s Theatre as the central hub for this fringe-style event with over 3,000 tickets issued for the festival each year. Downstairs at the Maj, the Dress Circle Bar, and Barre Café all hosted events during the Festival which featured the best of Perth’s emerging and established jazz talent.

WAYJO General Manager Simon Keen said audiences at His Majesty’s Theatre had embraced WAYJO’s presence at the venue, generating opportunities for the company to develop new funding streams and a wider reach.

“The opportunity for us to perform at this iconic Western Australian venue has opened doors in many ways, allowing us to build our programs, host donors, deliver engaging and exciting guest artist programs and develop our young musicians,” he said.

“We couldn’t be more grateful to the staff at The Maj for all of their support.”

Lloyd Smith, WAYJO Chair said: “The WAYJO Board greatly appreciates the support of our sponsors, donors, and attendees, in particular the State Government of Western Australia through the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries. As WAYJO’s annual audiences have more than quadrupled, we are proud to be a leading provider of opportunities for young musicians and to see WAYJO take a leadership role as the jazz sector provides accessible and affordable live music experiences in Perth.”

WAYJO’s program of events at His Majesty’s Theatre continues until November this year. Plans for the 2020 season are well underway with the theme of Homegrown at the core, with a focus on bringing the best Western Australian and Australian talent working interstate and overseas to Perth to work with our musicians across the season.

Media Contact

Simon KeenWAYJO General Manager
+61 (0)407 990 483