NYO Jazz, Carnegie Hall’s National Youth Jazz Orchestra, 

Announces Debut Tour to South Africa

Artistic Director and Bandleader / Trumpeter Sean Jones leads Ensemble 

with vocalist Alicia Olatuja as Special Guest at Carnegie Hall and on SA tour.

First-ever tour to Africa by one of Carnegie Hall’s three acclaimed National Youth Ensembles to include debut performances in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town from 22 July – 5 August 2024. 

Program to include big band classics, new arrangements and a new Carnegie Hall-commissioned work by South African composer Sibusiso Mash Mashiloane.

(New York, USA – 2 May 2024) –  This July and August, Carnegie Hall’s critically-acclaimed national youth jazz orchestra, NYO Jazz, returns for its seventh season of extraordinary music-making and embarks on its first-ever tour to South Africa. This remarkable ensemble, created by Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute in 2018, annually brings together some of the most outstanding teen jazz musicians from across the United States to train, perform and tour with some of the world’s greatest artists while also serving as music ambassadors, sharing America’s greatest artform with audiences around the globe.

NYO Jazz will perform at Carnegie Hall in New York on 20 July, before beginning their historic visit to South Africa. The tour includes debut performances at The Market Theatre, Johannesburg (26, 27 & 28 July);The Playhouse, Durban (1 August); and Artscape, Cape Town (2 & 3 August) as well as music-making with local South African musicians. This tour marks the first time that one of Carnegie Hall’s three acclaimed national youth ensembles will perform on the African continent. It follows successful international tours by NYO Jazz to some of the most prestigious concert halls and music festivals across Europe, Asia, and the United States. NYO Jazz was previously scheduled to tour South Africa in 2020, but the tour was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Celebrated Artistic Director and bandleader / trumpeter Sean Jones leads NYO Jazz, joined by vocalist Alicia Olatuja, who has been praised by The New York Times as “a singer with a strong and luscious tone,” as special guest for their annual Carnegie Hall concert and on tour. As part of its South African tour, the band will also be joined by local guest soloists to be announced in June.

Ahead of their South African tour, the musicians will arrive in New York in early July to begin an intensive 10-day training residency. They will work with world-class jazz masters on the campus of Purchase College, State University of New York, located just north of New York City. Immediately following the residency, NYO Jazz will perform its annual concert at Carnegie Hall on 20 July which will be livestreamed on the Hall’s website and later released on its on-demand streaming platform Carnegie Hall+. 

NYO Jazz’s 2024 South African tour offers America’s finest young musicians the opportunity to experience the richness of the country’s culture and history while sharing their remarkable artistry with audiences throughout the country. Complementing their performances, the players’ schedule will also include exciting opportunities for cultural exchange and peer-to-peer activities with local young people, an element that has become a hallmark of international tours by all three of Carnegie Hall’s national youth ensembles. 

“We are thrilled to have NYO Jazz make its debut in South Africa this year—the first visit to Africa by any of our national youth ensembles,” said Clive Gillinson, Executive and Artistic Director of Carnegie Hall. “Given South Africa’s extraordinarily rich music traditions, which include a deep passion for jazz, we know this tour will be a tremendous opportunity for musical and cultural discovery for these brilliant young players. We are proud to showcase their incredible depth of talent and the high level of musicianship found across the United States as we connect the members of NYO Jazz with young musicians and music lovers in South Africa.”

For NYO Jazz’s 2024 concerts, Carnegie Hall has commissioned a new work by South African composer Sibusiso Mash Mashiloane. The ensemble’s diverse program will also include big band classics by Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk and Mary Lou Williams; a new big band arrangement from Terri Lyne Carrington’s project “New Standards: 101 Lead Sheets by Women Composers”; Lakecia Benjamin’s “Trane,” arranged by Jhoely Garay; and other contemporary pieces, showcasing jazz as a living and limitless art form.

“South Africa is indeed a motherland where jazz resonates deeply within our souls, and we are thrilled to host the gifted NYO Jazz musicians,” said Sibusiso Mash Mashiloane. “My composition for NYO Jazz is an invitation to a musical dialogue celebrating South African ways of musicking. We will weave together the joyful spirit of the legendary Hugh Masekela with many of our other diverse musical influences, creating a powerful and unforgettable sound of our home: South Africa.”

Artscape, Cape Town.

Friday, 2 August at 19h00.  

Saturday, 3 August at 15h00 & 19h00.

Bookings via Webtickets.

For reduced-price block bookings (of 10 or more) and school groups, contact Artscape Dial-a-Seat on 021 421 7695.

Sean Jones

Artistic Director, Bandleader and Trumpet

Photo by Todd Rosenberg

Alicia Olatuja


Photo by Harrison Weinstein Photography

NYO Jazz

**Prior NYO Jazz member

Miriam Goroff-Behel, alto saxophone
Isaac Hanson, alto saxophone
Gustavo Cruz, tenor saxophone
Paloma Ximena, tenor saxophone
Ethan Kasparian Weisman, baritone saxophone

Alex Hong, trumpet
Theodore Peebles, trumpet
Lucas Rivero, trumpet
Preston W. Rupert, trumpet **
Skylar Tang, trumpet **

Jordan Klein, trombone
Priyanka Magavi, trombone
Bishesh Paudel, trombone
Ava Siu, bass trombone

Vincent Maclauchlan **
Miles Oppinger, guitar
Carter Bryan, piano
Jasper Zimmerman, piano 
Ruby Farmer, bass **
Rayah Thomas, bass
Ethan Oliver, drums
Benjamin Schwartz, drums **

* * * * *

About NYO Jazz

Each US summer, NYO Jazz, led by artistic director Sean Jones, shines a spotlight on the depth of talent found among teen jazz players across the United States. The programme offers talented young musicians, ages 16–19, the opportunity to perform as cultural ambassadors for their country, sharing a uniquely American musical genre with people around the world through an international tour. The members of NYO Jazz have been recognized by Carnegie Hall as being among the finest jazz musicians in the country, following a rigorous and highly competitive audition process.

Since its debut in 2018, NYO Jazz has performed at Carnegie Hall and embarked on acclaimed tours across Europe, Asia, and the United States. Guest artists in past seasons have included vocalists Dianne Reeves, Kurt Elling, Jazzmeia Horn, and Dee Bridgewater. As part of their travel schedule, NYO Jazz musicians also have opportunities to meet and collaborate with young local musicians and experience the richness of different cultures and music.

In 2021, during NYO Jazz’s annual training residency at Purchase College, State University of New York, the band recorded its first full length studio album under the direction of artistic director and bandleader Sean Jones and featuring special guest saxophonist Melissa Aldana. It includes Carnegie Hall-commissioned works for the ensemble from each year of the program exploring themes including social justice, resilience, and the power of music to spark joy. The album, entitled We’re Still Here, was released in June 2022.

NYO Jazz builds on the success of the acclaimed National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America (NYO-USA) and its sister ensemble for younger musicians NYO2—created by Carnegie Hall in 2013 and 2016, respectively—to bring together the finest young classical musicians from across the country each summer for training, performances and touring. Each of these prestigious national programmes—free to all participants—is dedicated to the proposition that talented young musicians thrive when they have the opportunity to expand their musical, social, and cultural horizons and share their artistry with audiences around the globe.


Lead Donors: Hope and Robert F. Smith, The Kovner Foundation, and Beatrice Santo Domingo.  
Global Ambassadors: Michael ByungJu Kim and Kyung Ah Park, Hope and Robert F. Smith, and Maggie and Richard Tsai.
Major support has been provided by Veronica Atkins, Mercedes T. Bass, Ronald E. Blaylock and Petra Pope, Clive and Anya Gillinson, Melanie and Jean E. Salata, Sarah Billinghurst Solomon and Howard Solomon, and Joyce and George Wein Foundation, Inc.
Additional support has been provided by the Alphadyne Foundation, Sarah Arison, Stella and Robert Jones, Martha and Robert Lipp, Beth and Joshua Nash, and David S. Winter.
NYO Jazz is made possible, in part, by an endowment grant from the Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme Foundation.