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Flushing Town Hall celebrates 15th anniversary of Queens Jazz Orchestra

Jun. 22, 2023 By Carlotta Mohamed

Flushing Town Hall is inviting the community to celebrate the 15th anniversary of its resident Queens Jazz Orchestra (QJO) on Friday, June 23, with “Land of the Giants,” a concert featuring the music of several of the greatest saxophonists who lived in Queens. The orchestra will be led by Grammy-nominated jazz saxophonist and conductor Antonio Hart.

The concert will begin at 8 p.m. at Flushing Town Hall, located at 137-35 Northern Blvd. The performance is part of the month-long Queens Rising celebration, showcasing the best of the borough’s cultural and creative diversity. 

“Jazz has historically played a vital role in Queens,” said Ellen Kodadek, executive and artistic director of Flushing Town Hall. “Flushing Town Hall has been a pivotal part of nurturing this important jazz legacy, presenting both established and emerging jazz artists for over 40 years. We invite jazz lovers and the jazz curious to celebrate the 15th anniversary of our Queens Jazz Orchestra!”

In 2008, the late Master Heath and Jazz Producer in Residence Clyde Bullard collaborated to co-found Flushing Town Hall’s Queens Jazz Orchestra, or the QJO, a 17-piece orchestra dedicated to preserving the heritage of jazz in Queens and nurturing the next generations of great jazz musicians. Heath was also QJO’s first music director, leading the orchestra until his passing in 2020.

The inauguration of the QJO at Flushing Town Hall gave the borough of Queens its second professional orchestra alongside the Queens Symphony Orchestra.

“Congratulations on 15 years of great Queens Jazz Orchestra concerts presented at Flushing Town Hall,” Bullard said. “For our anniversary, a strong QJO is coming together to celebrate our “land of the giants,” the greatest saxophonists of all times who called Queens their home.”

In 2020, Hart, a jazz artist, saxophonist and director of Jazz Studies at the Queens College Aaron Copland School of Music, was personally selected for the role of band leader by his late mentor.

“I am forever grateful to Master Heath for taking me under his wing and teaching me ‘Music is Life and Life is Music,’” said Hart, a long-time member of the QJO and QJO conductor since 2020. “Coming back to Flushing Town Hall for the annual QJO concert, now for the second time as its conductor, is always a blessing and highlight of my year.”

For the June 23 concert, QJO conductor Antonio Hart will select music from a few of Queens’ most renowned saxophonists and add some good old down home swinging big band jazz classics for a delightful night. 

In-person tickets are available for $45 ($35 for members and $20 for students).

For the venue’s full spring/summer 2023 schedule, visit flushingtownhall.org/fth-presents.

For those unable to attend events in person, Flushing Town Hall has launched Culture Stream. Subscriptions start at $5 per month.

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