Touring Performances

Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra in performance

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

The 2019-2020 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 Asia, the 19-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

Jazz from Broadway to Hollywood
Museum of Arts and Sciences, Daytona Beach, FL
Saturday, September 28, 2019


In November 2019, the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra (SJMO) will visit Hong Kong, Beijing, and Tokyo for the Asia leg of the tour. From music festivals to internationally renowned venues, the SJMO will explore jazz on both a local and global scale. In addition to evening concerts, the Orchestra will participate in several workshops and panels, including saxophone and guitar workshops, a conducting and arranging workshop, and a panel on women in jazz. The Orchestra will be joined by NEA Jazz Master Hubert Laws in Hong Kong and Beijing and GRAMMY Award-winning vocalist Kurt Elling in Tokyo.

Venues, dates, and times to be announced shortly.



The Orchestra will complete the Jazz Beyond Borders tour in Europe in the Spring of 2020. With anticipated visits to France and Germany, the Orchestra will continue its interactive education work as well as perform in full evening concerts with a guest artist. Please stay tuned for more information to be released December 2019.


Past Global Tour Stops

New York

Jazz Standard with guest artist Kurt Elling
May 15-16, 2019

New York is the final domestic stop of the tour, with a two-set performance at Jazz Standard. Each show will present a broad collection of music, including an original arrangement of Leonard Bernstein’s “Times Square” from the musical On the Town and contemporary selections from Grammy-winning jazz vocalist Kurt Elling's recent recordings. The orchestra will additionally conduct student workshops and clinics around the city with various partners.


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, 2019

Presented by the Jazz Institute of Chicago in the historic Studebaker Theater, internationally renowned flutist Hubert Laws will perform with the orchestra as guest artist. Laws has been named a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master, the highest honor our nation bestows on jazz artists. Enjoy music ranging from historic Duke Ellington arrangements from the Smithsonian archives to new compositions and arrangements of classic Hubert Laws compositions.

Educational Workshops at the University of Illinois–Chicago

The orchestra will perform an abbreviated concert at the University of Illinois–Chicago, followed by a Q&A between the musicians and students from the school’s jazz studies program. A rehearsal will follow at the university, to allow students and faculty in the School of Music and beyond to experience a professional open rehearsal. This is an exclusive opportunity to observe a professional big band run-through—especially with guest artist Hubert Laws, who is usually unavailable for this type of behind-the-scenes access. 



Zilkha Hall with guest artist Kurt Elling
Monday, March 18, 2019

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 Grammy 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.

Educational Workshops

The orchestra has partnered with Houston First, a local convention and performing arts organization, to present a wide program of activities for area students. At Bonnette Junior High School, students will participate in a master class led by the orchestra’s musicians on past and present jazz techniques. This once-in-a-lifetime session will teach young performers at a time in their lives when studies show they are at great risk for abandoning musical pursuits. The orchestra will run a similar session at the Denney Theatre, hosted by the Kinder High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. Over 150 student musicians, from Kinder High School and other schools in the greater Houston area, will participate. This community initiative is supported by our media partner KTSU 90.9 FM, Texas Southern University’s community radio station. 



Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A)
April 4, 2019

The orchestra’s executive producer Ken Kimery will present a lecture for V&A staff on the importance and effects of music in museums. He'll outline how the National Museum of American History utilizes its orchestra-in-residence for live music programs and as a living exhibition to make the legacy of jazz and its role in American history come alive. He'll also discuss the added value of having in-house musicians available to perform and record new arrangements and commissioned works.

Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
April 5, 2019

Join us for a pop-up performance in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, the future site of a Smithsonian outpost. This lunchtime concert for neighborhood students and workers will take place on the seventh anniversary of the park’s opening prior to the 2012 London Olympics. 

Milton Court at the Barbican Theatre with guest artist Hubert Laws
April 6, 2019

The programme, under the direction of artistic director Charlie Young, is a wide collection of pieces ranging from original Duke Ellington arrangements from the Smithsonian archives to contemporary music for big band, and some of Ella Fitzgerald’s historic arrangements as well.

Like the orchestra itself, Hubert Laws is a very rare visitor to London. He made his name with a string of great albums for the legendary CTI label and played with Gil Scott-Heron at the time of ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised’. He’s come to be regarded as one of the great jazz flautists and was recently celebrated by an NEA Jazz Masters Award.

Stratford Circus Arts Centre with NewYVC
April 7, 2019

At this evening concert, the orchestra will be joined by the New Young Voice Collective youth choir alongside seven additional community choirs, for a total of over 110 voices from across East London.

April 8, 2019

The orchestra will performs at Spotlight, a youth music center, and then give a music production workshop for young people.


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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