Youth Music Illinois is proud to announce the launch of its newest group, Big Jazz, under the direction of Andy Empey. Big Jazz is an ensemble modeled from the Big Band music genre and designed to progress and showcase the talents of student musicians who have yet to graduate high school  from the Central Illinois region. Mr. Empey is Director of Bands at Limestone Community High School and has earned a reputation for finding the connections between his students and their instruments. With a strategy that mixes enthusiasm, dedication, and work ethic, Mr. Empey’s performance results are outstanding.


Auditions are open to student musicians who are active in their school music programs, are dedicated, and have a strong work ethic. The goal of this ensemble is to create one of the finest down-state youth jazz ensembles and provide students with an amazing opportunity to perform! Big Jazz will utilize the standard big band instrumentation with trumpets, trombones, saxophones, piano, vibes, bass, guitar, and drums. Saxophonists that can double on clarinet and/or flute are encouraged to audition! Outstanding jazz musicians playing other instruments or singers are encouraged to contact Youth Music Illinois as well, since we envision further developments in jazz opportunities.

Audition deadline is November 30th and will be scheduled on December 2nd and 4th.
Go to Audition Application
Go to Audition Materials

Rehearsals and Performances

Rehearsals will be held on Sunday evenings from 6 to 8, usually at Youth Music Illinois’ home space, the Life Together Center – 3601 North Sheridan Road, Peoria, IL 61605. The season runs from January through April, possibly into May.

Among other performances to be schedule, Big Jazz will play in concert with the Heartland Festival Orchestra, in a side-by-side including the Youth Symphony on Saturday, April 21, 2017. Featured on the program will be Grieg’s Peer Gynt Suite, in the original and in Duke Ellington’s arrangement for big band.

Tuition for the Spring 2018 season is $220.