Jazz Studies

The Mason Jazz Studies Department combines performance, curriculum and service to support House Resolution 57 which states jazz is “hereby designated as a rare and valuable national American treasure.”


The Mason Jazz ensembles offer opportunities for improvisation, performance, recording, writing, leadership and service. They have performed at the Shanghai Concert Hall (Beijing, China), Center for the Arts, Hylton Performing Arts Center, Virginia Music Educators Association Conference (VMEA), Blues Alley, Kansas City Jazz Summit, JEN Conference 2014 (Dallas, TX), JENerations Jazz Festival 2017 (New Orleans, LA), JEN Conference 2018 (Dallas, TX), ACCENT Vocal Festival, University of Trinidad and Tobago and more. A highpoint of students’ time at George Mason University is Jazz 4 Justice™, an annual concert that combines the Mason Jazz department with local law communities to raise money for the jazz program and public access to justice.

The Mason Jazz Studies department hosts multiple master classes a year for students and jazz community. Artists include Eric Alexander, Peter Erskine, Doc Severinsen, Peter Bernstein, Byron Stripling, Bobby Floyd, Bria Skonberg, Alexis Cole, Stockton Helbing, and more. Spring 2021, we are excited to host American composer, Jazz Orchestra leader and multiple Grammy award-winner, Maria Schneider.


ENSEMBLESOpen to all university students, based on audition





  • FEB 12, 2021:  George Mason University Jazz Faculty Celebrates America’s Jazz Legacy – educational video (directed by Jim Carroll) for Prince William County Public Schools
  • FEB 15, 12:30pm:  Mason Jazz Mondays presents “From Jim Crow to Black Lives Matter:  Voices Raised in Jazz and Protest” by guest presenter Jessica Boykin-Settles (zoom link in email)
  • MAR 1, 12:30pm:  Mason Jazz Mondays presents “Having a Plan – The Transition from Classroom to the Professional World of Music” by guest presenter and Latin Award-winning band-leader, Joe McCarthy (zoom link in email)
  • MAR 15, 12:30pm:  Mason Jazz Mondays presents “Bare Bones – From the Bottom Up!” with guest presenters Jeff Grubbs and Tania Grubbs (zoom link in email)
  • Mar 16, 7pm:  Dewberry Artist Series:  Percussion, Saxophone and Steel Pan, featuring John Kocur and Victor Provost! Watch online at cfa.calendar.gmu.edu/dewberry-artist-series
  • MAR 29, 12:30pm:  Mason Jazz Mondays presents “Hearing the American Civil Rights Movement in the Music of Max Roach” with guest presenter, Kevin McDonald (zoom link email)
  • APR 7, 7pm:  Jazz Combos Video Shoot (De Laski 3001) 
  • APR 12, 12:30pm:  Mason Jazz Mondays presents “Harry Schnipper – Executive Director of Blues Alley and Blues Alley Jazz Society” (zoom link in email)
  • APR 13, 10:00am:  John Kocur presentation “The Improvising Brain: The Science of How Improvising Music Can Change Your Life” for Osher Lifelong Learning at Mason
  • APR 26, 12:30pm:  Mason Jazz Mondays presents “Erroll Garner – Virtuoso Pianist” by Michelle Blandburg (zoom link in email)
  • APR 28, 7pm:  Jazz Workshop and Jazz Combos Video Shoot (De Laski 3001) 
  • APR 30, 8pm:  International Jazz Day with Mason Jazz – Virtual celebration of this worldwide initiative featuring our students and faculty. Watch online at cfa.calendar.gmu.edu/international-jazz-day
  • May 2, 3pm:  Mason Jazz Faculty:  Tribute to Sonny Rollins – LIVE “outdoor” concert at the Center for the Arts Purchase Tickets:  https://cfa.calendar.gmu.edu/tribute-to-sonny-rollins
  • June 21 – June 25:  Mason Jazz Camp – weeklong summer camp for middle, high school and college students. Details coming soon!

Mason Jazz International Jazz Day Celebration is featured in Northern Virginia Magazine “These Are the Best Things to Do in NOVA this April!”  https://northernvirginiamag.com/things-to-do/things-to-do-features/2021/03/31/these-are-the-best-things-to-do-in-nova-this-april/

JAZZ RECITALS – All recitals spring 2021 are virtual events, limited audience

  • Tuesday, FEB 9, 8pm:  Juan Megna, DMA Lecture Recital, Jazz Percussion 
  • Sunday, MAR 14, 1pm:  Gabriel Rivera-Martinez, Junior Recital, Saxophone 
  • Sunday, MAR 14, 4pm:  Dominique Bianco, Junior Recital, Voice 
  • Sunday, MAR 21, 1pm:  Jackson Hollaway, Junior Recital, Guitar 
  • Sunday, MAR 21, 4pm:  Allan Fogelson, Junior Recital, Guitar 
  • Sunday, MAR 21, 7pm:  Grayson Boatwright, Junior Recital, Guitar 
  • Sunday, MAR 28, 1pm:  Hannah Pennisi, Junior Recital, Steel Pan
  • Sunday, MAR 28, 4pm:  Ronald Lee, Junior Recital, Steel Pan
  • Sunday, MAR 28, 7pm:  Jason Seiler, Senior Recital, Guitar 
  • Saturday, APR 10, 2pm:  Brendan Schnabel, DMA Lecture Recital, Saxophone 
  • Saturday, APR 17, 2pm:  Noah Nipp, Senior Recital, Bass
  • Saturday, APR 17, 6pm:  Domenic Lewis, Senior Recital, Steel Pan 
  • Sunday, APR 18, 7pm:  Eljhaie Brathwaite, Senior Recital, Steel Pan

DownBeat Student Music Awards

The Latin American Ensemble is honored to have been awarded “Latin Group, Graduate College – Outstanding Performances” for 2 years in a row (2019, 2020) in the DownBeat Student Music Awards! Congratulations to our students and director, Juan Megna!




JAZZ ENSEMBLE AUDITIONS – Fall 2021 (current Mason students, online auditions) 

  • Instrumental Piece:
  • Instrumentalists:  Play the melody for one chorus and improvise for two choruses. In addition there will be sight-reading on the audition. Please bring your own musical accompaniment/backing track for iPod, Phone or CD player. (Bring adapter if your phone does not have a headphone jack)
  • Vocalists:  Sing one song of your choice (jazz preferred), sight-read a solo musical line and sing a brief tonal melody test. Please bring your own musical accompaniment/backing track for either iPod, Phone or CD player.
  • Visit the SEATING PLACEMENT AUDITIONS page to sign up for an audition. If all audition slots are filled, please e-mail Dr. Darden Purcell

We had an incredible spring planned before COVID-19 hit. Below is our typical concert schedule.

CONCERTS – Spring 2020

  • Juan Megna Clinic at the Jazz Education Network (JEN) Conference:  Friday, JAN 10, 2pm (Hyatt Regency, New Orleans)
  • Metropolitan Jazz Orchestra – Ellington, Basie and Bird:  Saturday, FEB 8, 8pm (Hylton PAC) Purchase Tickets:  hylton.calendar.gmu.edu/metropolitan-jazz-orchestra
  • Mason Jazz Faculty at Blues Alley:  Monday, FEB 10, 8pm & 10pm. Purchase Tickets: www.bluesalleylive.com/?fuseaction=home.artist&VenueID=3&artistid=20797
  • Mason Jazz Festival: Saturday, FEB 29, All day (Harris Theatre) Schedule and Registration:  music.gmu.edu/visit-us/mason-jazz-festival/
  • Latin American Ensemble Global Discovery Trip to Brazil:  Friday, MAR 6 – Sunday, MAR 15th! (Performances and workshops at UNICAMP, Projeto GURI and much more! Details TBD) 
  • Brazilian “Friends of Music” event with the Latin American Ensemble:  Sunday, MAR 22, Time TBD (Monson Grand Tier)
  • Big Band Showdown with the Matthews HS Jazz Band and NJW All-Star Orchestra:  Monday, MAR 30, 8pm (Center for the Arts) Purchase Tickets: cfa.calendar.gmu.edu/big-band-showdown
  • Mason Jazz Concert/Lecture for Local Schools:  Wed. APR 1, 10:30am (Hylton Performing Arts Center)
  • Jazz Combos/Latin American Ensemble:  Wed. APR 8, 8pm (de Laski 3001) 
  • Metropolitan Jazz Orchestra with special guest artist, MARIA SCHNEIDER:  Saturday, APR 11, 8pm (Center for the Arts) Purchase Tickets:  cfa.calendar.gmu.edu/metropolitan-jazz-orchestra
  • Jazz Combos:  Wed. APR 15, 8pm (de laski 3001) 
  • Hylton PAC Gala – Darden Purcell + Studio Vocalists:  Friday, APR 17, 8pm – 11:30pm, Purchase Tickets
  • Jazz Workshop:  Wed. APR 22, 8pm (De Laski 3001)
  • Big Band Jam:  Sat. APR 25 (Hosted by the Blues Alley Jazz Society, held at the Sylvan Theatre. Performances by the Mason Jazz Vocal Ensemble and Mason Jazz Ensemble – Details TBD)  
  • Mason Jazz Vocal Night:  Monday, APR 27, 8pm (Center for the Arts) Purchase Tickets: cfa.calendar.gmu.edu/mason-jazz-vocal-night
  • Mason Jazz Ensemble at Blues Alley:  Tuesday, APR 28, 8pm & 10pm (Split performance with the GW Jazz Ensemble at Washington DC historic Jazz club, Blues Alley) Purchase Tickets: http://bluesalley.com/
  • International Jazz Day:  Thursday, APR 30 (Center for the Arts) Purchase Tickets:  cfa.calendar.gmu.edu/international-jazz-day-concert
  • Law Day:  Friday, MAY 1, 4pm – 8pm (Weiner, Spivey and Miller Law Office)
  • Mason Steel Pan Night:  Sunday, May 3, (Harris Theatre)



E-mail dpurcel2@gmu.edu for hard copies.


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