Debuting in 2002, the 68-member Symphonic Jazz Orchestra (SJO) is a unique hybrid ensemble dedicated to blending the worlds of jazz and classical music. The ensemble has performed throughout Southern California at such venues as the Richard & Karen Carpenter Performing Arts Center, Royce Hall (UCLA), Walt Disney Theater (CalArts) and Marsee Auditorium.
Soloists joining the Symphonic Jazz Orchestra have included Grammy Award winning performers including George Duke, Dave Grusin, Christian McBride, Raul Midon, Jane Monheit, Lee Ritenour, Chris Brubeck, Luciana Souza, Ernie Watts, The Yellowjackets and Miguel Zenon. The SJO’s acclaimed recording “Looking Forward, Looking Back” includes two commissioned works by George Duke and Lee Ritenour, along with George Gershwin’s classic “Rhapsody in Blue.” Hosted by SJO music director Mitch Glickman, the SJO’s radio series “Beyond Symphonic Jazz” on America’s #1 jazz station KJAZZ 88.1 FM, reaches an international audience each week. The orchestra’s commissioning program has resulted in eighteen newly commissioned works from both established and emerging composers from across the country.
Music Director and SJO Founder
Award-winning composer, conductor, and producer, Mitch Glickman’s diverse music career covers the fields of concert, jazz, opera, film, and recordings. He founded the Symphonic Jazz Orchestra in 2001 and his concert works have been commissioned and premiered by leading ensembles including the American Jazz Philharmonic, Oberlin Orchestra, Turtle Island String Quartet, and Angel City Chorale. His film and television credits include scores for the independent films “Street of Pain” starring Steve Carell, and “Proudheart” starring Lorrie Morgan, along with Night Court, Cheers, and the Grammy Award Show. Glickman also serves as Director of Music Programs for LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) and he hosts and produces the weekly “Beyond Symphonic Jazz” radio series on KJazz 88.1 FM. In 2021, Glickman was named Jazz Educator of the Year by the Los Angeles Jazz Society.
Jill Sowell has a background in television writing, as an executive story editor for ABC Family’s “Lincoln Heights” and as a staff writer for the CW’s “One Tree Hill.” She has volunteered and taught for several programs with a focus in education. She is the co-chair for ¡Hola Zorros!, the extra-curricular Spanish Program at Farragut Elementary School in Culver City,
Sandy hails from Los Angeles and has over 20 years of experience in arts education that includes strategic planning, teaching artist training, curriculum development, program management, and professional development for both classroom teachers and teaching artists. She is happy to join the SJO team to support teaching artists and curriculum. Sandy’s extensive experience includes work with the Arts Ed Collective at the Department of Arts and Culture, Turnaround Arts: CA, The Music Center, PS Arts, the Arts + STEM Collaborative, The Armory Center for the Arts, Los Angeles Opera, Dramatic Results, the Da Camera Society and more. In addition, Sandy has served the field of arts education by serving on the several advisory councils and boards supporting the field of teaching artistry. Just prior to her work in arts administration, she worked as a teaching artist in a middle school with young cellists and violinists. In addition, she worked in special education with Los Angeles Unified School District for over ten years. Sandy also currently doubles as a professional cellist, specializing in classical and jazz, and as a fiddler playing Scandinavian folk music for local dances and festivals.
Claire is a Connecticut native, but found herself in Los Angeles in 2017 and has loved it ever since. With a background in arts & cultural event production, social media management, graphic design, and marketing, Claire fits right in as a new addition to the SJO team. She runs her own graphic design business, Good Design LA, in addition to her work with SJO.
MUSIC ADVISORY BOARD
Dr. Peter Pelikan
REMEMBERING GEORGE DUKE
George served as Co-Music Director of Symphonic Jazz Orchestra for nearly ten years, performing in concert with the orchestra, performing benefits, as well as composing a new work for the SJO, “Dark Wood: Duke Bass Concerto for McBride.”
Following his passing in 2013, the SJO set out to record his 22-minute epic concerto featuring bassist Christian McBride performing on upright, electric and fretless bass. The CD is available by clicking here.
Music Director Mitch Glickman remembers, “George was so incredibly multi-faceted. Brilliant recording artist, gifted producer, outstanding composer/arranger – but what made him so unique is that his talents crossed so many genres. Most people don’t know about his Gershwin recording, or his orchestral work for the Montreux Jazz Festival “Muir Woods Suite” or his concerto written for Christian McBride and the Symphonic Jazz Orchestra.”
“There are so very few George Dukes in the world. An amazingly giving, warm, open, and positive person. Beyond his extraordinary talents was an even more extraordinary person. We have lost a very special soul.”
To learn more about George and his discography, please visit GeorgeDuke.com