Youth Music Illinois launched its newest group, Jazz Orchestra (originally named “Big Jazz”), in the Spring of 2017 under the director of Andy Empey. Youth Music Illinois Jazz Orchestra 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. Jazz Orchestra premiered in concert with the Heartland Festival Orchestra, in a side-by-side including the Youth Symphony on Saturday on April 21, 2017. Featured on the program was Grieg’s Peer Gynt Suite, in the original and in Duke Ellington’s arrangement for big band. Jazz Orchestra is YMI’s first jazz group, and hopes to evolve into more jazz playing opportunities for the students of Central Illinois!


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! Jazz Orchestra 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 application deadline is January 9th and will be scheduled on January 11th and 13th.
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.

Tuition for the Spring 2019 season is $250.