2019 Global Tour

Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra in performance

Jazz Beyond Borders:
From the Golden Gate to the Great Wall

The 2018-2019 Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra season offers an incomparable experience for jazz lovers, music enthusiasts, and fans of the orchestra. Building upon the 2017–2018 Jazz and Democracy season, we are excited to announce the orchestra will embark on a 10-city global initiative that will take the orchestra across the world to share a diverse program of American and international jazz. From San Francisco to Beijing, the 18-piece orchestra will engage audiences on the role that jazz plays in their communities, in their personal lives, and in cultural identity around the world. Throughout each concert artistic director Charlie Young will share historical and cultural insights only the National Museum of American History can offer.

This tour will ignite the Smithsonian’s goal of "convening conversations," in which we will use the power of music as a springboard into important discussions around democracy, diversity, identity, and diplomacy. Each of our 10 tour stops includes evening concerts with celebrated guest musicians and daytime educational experiences for learners of all ages. These daytime experiences are part of the orchestra’s ongoing work to exchange ideas with new generations through history-rich musical experiences and exemplify the museum’s mission to prioritize programs for disconnected and underserved communities across the nation.

Tour Destinations

San Francisco

SFJAZZ with guest artist Kurt Elling
Wednesday, February 13, 2019

At SFJazz the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra will present a collection of music ranging from historic Duke Ellington arrangements from the Smithsonian archives to contemporary arrangements from Grammy-winning jazz vocalist Kurt Elling's recent recordings. Woven within this bespoke concert experience is a historical narrative of San Francisco’s influences on the evolution of jazz including the music of Dave Brubeck, Tony Bennett, Ella Fitzgerald, and more.

Masterclass at the Museum of the African Diaspora
During our first of leg of the journey, the orchestra has partnered with the Museum of the African Diaspora, a Smithsonian Affiliate, to offer a unique educational opportunity for students from Roosevelt and Edna Brewer middle schools. The students will participate in an interactive workshop led by the orchestra's musicians on past and present jazz musical techniques and engage in dialogue about the music’s historical context and influence. This once-in-a-lifetime session will teach young musicians at an important age—when studies show they are at great risk for abandoning musical pursuits, and when they are building important civic-engagement skills.



Studebaker Theater with guest artist Hubert Laws
Thursday, March 14



Zilkha Hall with guest artist Kurt Elling
Monday, March 18

At the Hobby Center’s Zikha Hall, SJMO presents a collection of music ranging from historic Duke Ellington arrangement from the Smithsonian archives to contemporary arrangements from Germany award-winning jazz vocalist Kurt Elling’s recent recordings. This bespoke concert experience weaves a historical narrative of Houston’s influences on the evolution of jazz including a special feature of local legend Shelley Carrol and the Texas Tenor tradition.




April 2, 5, 6, & 7


April 3-4

New York

Jazz Standard with guest artist Kurt Elling
May 15-16


June 24-25


September 16-18


September 19-20

Hong Kong

September 22-23


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Smithsonian Jazz programs are made possible through generous support from:

LeRoy Neiman Foundation

The Argus Fund

Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation

David C. Frederick and Sophia Lynn

Goldman Sachs

John Hammond Performance Series Endowment Fund