Blues Alley Youth Orchestra

The Blues Alley Youth Orchestra is comprised of accomplished student musicians ranging in age from 14 to 17 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.

Youth Orchestra

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.  The Orchestra maintains a full schedule of weekly rehearsals and regular performances from September through August.  An orientation occurs each year on the third Sunday in September.  To learn more about, to participate in, or to perform with this truly unique Washington jazz music education experience please contact Mr. Bowie at


The Blues Alley Cadet Orchestra is an off-shoot of our regular year-round orchestra and is designed to be an interactive, multi-disciplinary platform. That platform is specifically arranged to be a deep dive in to the language of jazz music; music as a language, spoken by imitation and that language adopted by that imitation. The program is conducted by our music director Michael Bowie and hosted at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Washington, DC. The program meets twice monthly on Saturdays between 11:00 am-1:30 pm. St. Mary’s Church is located in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood across from the George Washington University campus and two blocks north of the subway station bearing its neighborhood name. The cost of tuition is $350.00 for fourteen (14) bi-monthly sessions, arranged on a pro-rata basis with supplemental public performances throughout the school year.

Blues Alley Youth Orchestra Registration/Payment:

Blues Alley Youth Orchestra Payment

Youth Orchestra Auditions

All Youth Orchestra participants are required to complete and submit the Emergency Contact and Insurance Waiver forms!! (PDF)


The Blues Alley Youth Orchestra performs at the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage