Music Department


Festival Jazz Ensemble

Frederick Harris, Jr., Music Director

The MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble, founded in 1963 by Boston jazz icon Herb Pomeroy, is comprised of undergraduate and graduate MIT students from many fields of study. Membership is open to students from other area colleges, but priority is given to MIT students. The central mission of the MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble is to enhance the musical education and artistic sensitivity of its members through study and performance of jazz ensemble literature. The ensemble performs original and standard jazz compositions spanning the gamut of jazz history. The FJE performs four concerts per year, including the annual Herb Pomeroy Memorial Concert, and frequently features major jazz artists on its programs. Artists-in-residence with the FJE have included Joe Lovano, Steve Turre, Magali Souriau, Guillermo Klein, Herb Pomeroy, Don Byron, Kenny Werner, Dominique Eade and George Schuller.

Since 2000, the FJE has commissioned 15 original works for jazz ensemble by student, local, and nationally known composers. FJE released The Tale of the Skyswimmer in 2002. The recording features the music of Charles Mingus, Duke Ellington, and premiere pieces by Magali Souriau and Guillermo Klein. In 2010, FJE will release a new double CD, FJE Live!, a compilation of 10 years of live performances.

The ensemble's standard instrumentation is 4-5 trumpets, 4 trombones, 5 saxophones, piano, guitar or vibraphone, bass, and drums/percussion. Woodwind doubles in the saxophone section are often called for and French horns, double reeds, and strings are encouraged to participate. A jazz combo is formed from the ranks of the membership and three others are formed under the auspices of the MIT Chamber Music Society. FJE (21M.442) may be taken for credit.


Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5pm to 7pm in Killian Hall (14W-111).


Auditions for ALL jazz performers (FJE & CMS combos) are held at the beginning of each academic year. Contact Vanessa Gardner ( to sign up for an audition.

Audition Requirements

Experience in improvisation is preferred but not required for admission.

Woodwinds and Brass: Chromatic scale the full range of your instrument, brief sight-reading (focusing on rhythmic reading and various jazz styles), and a brief solo jazz piece of your choice. You are encouraged to demonstrate your improvisational ability at the audition but it is not a requirement. Accompaniment for Blues in Bb or F will be provided.

Rhythm Section (Piano/Vibes/Guitar): Sight-reading of basic chord changes and a solo piece of your choice demonstrating melodic playing. You are encouraged but not required to demonstrate your improvisational ability.

Bass: Sight-reading of basic swing and funk/Latin charts and chord changes and a solo piece of your choice demonstrating melodic playing. You are encouraged but not required to demonstrate your improvisational ability.

Drumset: Sight-reading of basic swing and Latin/funk charts and performance of four/eight bars of time followed by four/eight bars of soloing in both swing and funk/Latin styles at a medium tempo.


MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble, Frederick Harris, Director
Jamshied Sharifi, The Calling (premiere)


MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble


Visit the Festival Jazz Ensemble website.


Being in FJE is like having a family at MIT. We’re a tight group with a tight groove.”

Jenna McKown ’10