The Rialto Youth Jazz Orchestra (RYJO) was formed by Dr. Gordon Vernick in June 2010. RYJO consists of one big band and five jazz combos. RYJO exposes students to the full spectrum of jazz music and education. The students are selected through audition; participating high school students come from the following counties: Fulton, Cobb, Dekalb, Gwinnett, Clayton, and Fayette. Home schooled students are also encouraged to audition.
Jazz is American music and it is important to protect and preserve this important musical and cultural heritage. The best way to do this is to teach young musicians about the art form through performance. Our big bands and jazz combos perform music that is both historically significant and challenging. The students receive outstanding instruction in jazz performance, jazz history, and jazz improvisation from our staff. Each jazz combo is supervised by one of the jazz faculty from Georgia State University. The groups range from the intermediate level to the advanced level. The combos are often asked to perform in the metro Atlanta area at music venues and senior centers.
This select high school group is a continuation of our middle school jazz program, Rialto Jazz for Kids. The young musicians are treated as professionals, even though they are still of high school age. We instill a sense of purpose, pride and responsibility with an emphasis on teamwork and artistic expression. Many of our students have gone on to study music at the university level. Former band members are currently attending New England Conservatory, Juilliard Conservatory, the University of North Texas, Georgia State University, Berklee College of Music, the University of Georgia, Kennesaw State, Florida State, and the University of Miami. Some past performance highlights include: concerts at Georgia State University, featured performances at Café 290, Churchill Grounds (Atlanta’s premier jazz club), the Atlanta Jazz Festival in Piedmont Park (2011, 2013, 2014), the Jazz Education Network Conference (Atlanta 2013), and the Governors Inaugural Reception at Philips Arena in 2011.