Jazz Voice

Vocalists pursuing Jazz Studies degrees study the traditions and techniques of vocal jazz performance (solo and ensemble), jazz improvisation, keyboard skills, theory and jazz arranging. They have shared the stage with the New York Voices, the Manhattan Transfer, ACCENT, Ben Folds, Metropolitan Jazz Orchestra, American Festival Pops Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and National Symphony Orchestra. They have won Outstanding Ensemble accolades, military band positions, DownBeat Student Music awards and finalist positions in the Ella Fitzgerald Vocal Competition, hosted by Blues Alley.

Our students and Jazz community have the benefit of attending master classes with world-class musicians throughout the year. Past artists include Eric Alexander, Peter Erskine, Doc Severinsen, Peter Bernstein, Byron Stripling, Bobby Floyd, Chip McNeill, Stockton Helbing, Bria Skonberg, and more. Spring 2022, we are excited to host American composer, Jazz Orchestra leader and multiple Grammy award-winner, Maria Schneider.


JAZZ ENSEMBLES – Open to all university students, based on audition


Ensemble Auditions (current Mason students) 

  • 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


Mason Jazz Vocal Ensemble – Voice of Reason CD promo. Video by Mason Music alumnus, David Scalea.

Voice of Reason and Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Swing can be purchased at amazon or email Dr. Darden Purcell at dpurcel2@gmu.edu for hard copies.


The Mason Jazz Vocal Ensemble was awarded “Outstanding Ensemble” at the Kansas City Jazz Summit, April 2016, hosted by John Stafford at KCKCC. “Outstanding Musicianship” awards were also given to Kyra Larson, Sarah Moyers, Huy Ngo and Khanh Ngo.

Members of the Mason Jazz Vocal Ensemble sang back-up vocals for indie pop star BEN FOLDS for three shows in 2014!  Performances were with the Virginia Beach Symphony (Sandler Center), National Symphony Orchestra (Wolf Trap) and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (Meyerhoff Symphony Hall).