About Rialto Youth Jazz Orchestra


The Rialto Youth Jazz Orchestra (RYJO) was formed by Dr. Gordon Vernick in June 2011.  RYJO consists of one big band and multiple jazz combos. RYJO exposes students to the full spectrum of jazz music and education. The students are selected through audition. Participating students have come from the many counties in the past, including, but not limited to: Fulton, Cobb, Dekalb, Gwinnett, Clayton, and Fayette. Home schooled students are also encouraged to audition.

Jazz is an American music, and it is important to protect and preserve its important musical and cultural heritage. The best way to do this is to teach young musicians about the art form through performance. Our big band and jazz combos perform music that is historically significant as well as challenging. In rehearsals, RYJO stresses personal responsibility, musicianship, teamwork, and artistic expression.

The students receive outstanding instruction in jazz performance, jazz history, and jazz improvisation from our faculty. 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.

Dr. Vernick envisions this select high school group to be a continuation of the middle school jazz program, Rialto Jazz for Kids. The young musicians are treated as professionals, despite their age. Many of the graduating high school students go on to become music majors in college. Former band members currently attend the University of North Texas, New England Conservatory of Music, Georgia State University, The University of Georgia, Kennesaw State University, Florida State University, The Juilliard School, and the Berklee College of Music.

We supply all music and folders. The students will need to purchase long and short sleeve shirts for our performances. It is also helpful if each student brings a 16GB flash drive to rehearsals so we can give them important recordings for listening purposes. All rehearsals will take place in Georgia State University’s Rialto Center located on Forsyth Street.

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.



Apply now! 

Return to RYJO homepage