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Blues Alley Youth Orchestra


The Blues Alley Youth Orchestra is comprised of accomplished student musicians ranging in age from 13 to 18 years old, and their mission is to preserve and promote the big band jazz art form. The Orchestra rehearses and performs under the musical direction of renowned bassist, Michael Bowie. Now in its 3rd decade, the Orchestra has performed at many of the classic venues in the Washington metropolitan area such as The John F. Kennedy Center, The Smithsonian Institution, Voice of America, Carter Barron Amphitheater, Wolf Trap Farm Park, and Blues Alley.

The Orchestra was founded in 1985 along with its parent organization the Blues Alley Jazz Society and performs musical selections by such masterful jazz composers as Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Chick Corea, and Herbie Hancock. The Orchestra typically contains a full complement of brass, reeds and rhythm, and it attracts young jazz musicians from Frederick to Fredericksburg. Orchestra members take part in both civic and educational opportunities as they perform in senior centers, at community functions, and inside houses of worship.

Often professional jazz musicians on tour have volunteered in workshops and master classes when they stop in the District to perform at the Blues Alley supper club. Guest artists have included Quincy Jones, McCoy Tyner, Wayne Shorter, Jon Faddis, and Terrence Blanchard.


Upcoming Concerts

June 15 Music of Duke Ellington Tribute to the Cellar Door at the Hamilton

Schedule Subject to Change without Notice

Mclean Project for the Arts Artfest


Our 2023-2024 Season Begins Now!

The beat will go on! Here at BAYO, we pride ourselves in the quality of jazz education we provide. At the helm of that effort is our musical director and bassist, Michael Bowie ( His 40 year career working with greats such as the Manhattan Transfer, Slide Hampton Big Band, The Duke Ellington Orchestra, Sarah Vaughn, Joe Williams, and countless others, ensures that each student receives the highest quality instruction – direct from the source! Our record of facilitating graduating members of the orchestra, into the nation’s top universities, will not be deterred!


As we are taking every precaution to comply with regulations that will keep us safe during the pandemic, our operations will take on a new look this season. Here are the details:




All rehearsals are located at Georgetown University.

  • If you are selected (or returning) to the Youth Orchestra, you will rehearse on Sunday’s (unless notified) from 2 pm - 5 pm beginning September 17, 2023 at the Georgetown University Campus New North music building.  37th and O street entrance only.



There will be no performances scheduled until such time as the pandemic restrictions are lifted, and it is safe to do so. All future performance opportunities will be vetted by the executive director of BAYO, and ultimately approved by our orchestra parents.

Auditions – OPEN ENROLLMENT year round!
Returning BAYO members automatically retain their chair, upon approval of the musical director. We always have a few chairs open to new members, made vacant by our graduates. If you are interested in joining our orchestra, please read the instructions below. All submissions are accepted year round!
If you are not selected for the orchestra, we recommend that you participate in our development class. Lesson will be designed to prepare you for the high level of big band concepts needed to become an orchestra member.

Blues Alley Youth Orchestra Auditions Materials and Requirements

Videotape submission should not exceed 7 minutes total. You must state your name, grade entering/school attending, and email address on the video. Upload your video to YouTube, and create a private link. Send that link to: You will be contacted via email with your results.

1. Play (vocalist sing/scat) one chorus of Charlie Parker’s “Au Privave”, and two choruses of improvisation after the melody. Bass players will also walk for two choruses.
2. Self Selections. Play (sing) two songs of contrasting styles, swing, be-bop, Latin, etc.
3. Excerpts and Scales. Play the excerpt for your instrument(s) from the “pdf” file linked below and the major scales through four (4) sharps and five (5) flats from memory at mm=98. Vocalists should sing the scales.

EXCERPTS: Play the excerpts for your instrument from the link below.



Bass Trombone






Vibraphone (same as guitar)

Blues Alley Youth Orchestra Registration
If you have been selected for the youth orchestra, please fill out the below after you have paid via paypal on the link to the right and have downloaded and signed the insurance waiver pdf on the right.  Thanks.

Select an option
Select an option
Upload PDF Signed Waiver Form

CADET Program

The Blues Alley Cadet program is a deep dive into the language of jazz music. Music is a language, which is spoken by imitation. As all languages are acquired in this manner, Michael Bowie will guide your student through this unique process of listening, singing, and performing it on their instrument. Once the student experiences the feeling and flow of the culture through active participation, they will begin to analyze this newly acquired language from a theoretical perspective, while we focus on building their knowledge of scales, that we’ll use in this regard. ***All levels of experience welcomed***

Registration and Payment:
Please register above. The yearly fee is $375. Payment plans may be arranged at the discretion of the executive director of BAYO.

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