Dr. Frederick Harris, Jr., Music Director, MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble, MIT Jazz Performance Coordinator, and Emerson/Harris Jazz Advisor, (fharris@mit.edu)

You are encouraged to take MIT FJE for credit, but it is not necessary in order to participate.



The MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble (MIT FJE) was founded in 1963 by Boston jazz icon Herb Pomeroy and led since 1999 by Dr. Frederick Harris, Jr. This advanced 18 to 20-member big band/jazz ensemble is comprised of outstanding MIT undergraduate and graduate students studying a wide range of disciplines. An advanced combo is formed from the membership of the MIT FJE. MIT FJE performs traditional and contemporary jazz ensemble literature, including student compositions and new works written for the MIT FJE by major jazz composers. Improvisation is a prominent part of the MIT FJE experience. MIT FJE has released five professional recordings including its major jazz label debut on Sunnyside in 2015, Infinite Winds, which received a five-star review from DownBeat and was chosen by the magazine as one of its “Best Albums of 2015 Five-Star Masterpieces.”

The FJE has a long history of performing original music by MIT students and composers from around the world. Since 2001, it has presented over 50 world premieres. Among others, Mark Harvey, Herb Pomeroy, Jamshied Sharifi, Ran Blake, John Harbison, Chick Corea, Joe Lovano, Gunther and George Schuller, Kenny Werner, Don Byron, Steve Turre, Magali Souriau, Guillermo Klein, Chris Cheek, Miguel Zenón, Dominique Eade, and Luciana Souza have collaborated with the MIT FJE. In January of 2019 the FJE participated in a highly successful cultural exchange, touring Puerto Rico with Miguel Zenón, presenting concerts in various venues and also STEM workshops in middle and high schools.

Learn about the MIT FJE’s collaboration with Grammy-winner Jacob Collier in this Emmy-winning documentary. Watch the Emmy-nominated documentary The Great Clarinet Summit, featuring MIT FJE. See an overview of MIT FJE’s recent tour of Puerto Rico. Watch MIT FJE and Sean Jones perform an original composition by MIT student Alan Osmundson and Warren Wolf perform Heal! by MIT pianist-composer Peter Godart. MIT FJE participated in MIT's 2021 virtual Commencement, performing Diary of a Pandemic Year. See an overview of MIT FJE’s history here.

In March of 2023 the MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble, along with the MIT Wind Ensemble and MIT Vocal Jazz Ensemble, toured and performed in the Brazilian Amazon. The project was focused on cultural and environmental sustainability and music's power as a vehicle for change.



T/TH, 5:15-7:15pm, Killian Hall



Fall 2024

  • October 25, 2024 - 8pm - MIT's Annual Family Weekend Concert
  • November 16, 2024 - 8pm - FJE Fall Concert

Spring 2025

  • March 1, 2025 - 8pm - FJE Spring Concert
  • April 18, 2025 - 7:30pm - MIT's Annual Campus Preview Weekend Concert
  • May 2, 2025 - 8pm - FJE Spring Concert 2




Dr. Frederick Harris, Music Director, MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble, MIT Jazz Performance Coordinator, and Emerson/Harris Jazz Advisor, (fharris@mit.edu)

 NOTE: Auditions for the MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble, CMS Jazz Combos, and the Emerson/Harris Jazz Program are all combined into one audition. Your interests in any or all of these opportunities are covered by ONE jazz audition.

 Auditions for Fall 2024 participation in MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble (21M.442) are Sept. 3-6,with additional options on August 29 & 30. Auditions are also held Spring 2025 but students are encouraged to audition in the fall for participation for the full AY.  Accepted students may take MIT FJE for credit (6 units) but may also participate not for credit. Those not taking MIT FJE for credit should register as a listener.

 Early auditions: If you would like to audition earlier than the dates listed above, you may do so on zoom with Dr. Harris. Email him directly (fharris@mit.edu) to set up a day/time.

 MIT FJE is comprised of MIT undergraduate and graduate students but all local college students, MIT community members, and non-MIT community members are welcome to audition.  The audition will take approximately 15 minutes.  While the typical instrumentation of the MIT FJE comprises saxophones, trumpets, trombones, and full rhythm section, any other interested instrumentalists are welcome to audition.

 First MIT FJE rehearsal of the Fall semester will be Tuesday, September 10, 5:15-7:15pm, Killian Hall.




 There are four parts to the audition:

1.  Chromatic scale through your entire range.

2.  Sight-reading. **Rhythm Section players (Piano/Vibes/Guitar/Bass/Drums) see note below.

3.  Two short stylistically contrasting pieces (a ballad and a swing/bebop composition for example). You are encouraged but not required to demonstrate your improvisational ability. Please provide your own recorded accompaniments if possible. If you need playback equipment for recorded accompaniments, please note this request in your audition form and describe what exactly you need.

4.  Prepare the posted piece, I Mean Monk (for saxophones, trumpets, trombones, and rhythm section) appropriate to your instrument HERE.  You will be asked to play excerpts from the piece for your instrument. Wind players have choices as to which part to prepare (tenor 1 or 2, trumpet 1 or 2, trombone 1 or 3, etc.).


I Mean Monk - sample recording HERE


NOTE for Rhythm Section players:

*Piano/Vibes/Guitar:  Sight-reading of basic chord changes will be part of your audition.  Guitar and bass players should provide their own amps. If that is not possible, please inform the Events Office at least 24 hours in advance of your audition day.

*Bass:  Sight-reading of basic swing and funk/Latin charts and chord changes will be part of your audition.

*Drum Set:  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 will be part of our audition.

If you have any questions about auditions/MITFJE in general, contact Dr. Fred Harris (fharris@mit.edu).If you need access to an instrument, fill out the Instrument Request Form, then contact the Events Office (mta-request@mit.edu). 

Note: students who register for an audition and need access to the MTA 4-260 practice room suite during the week leading up to auditions, may request access by emailing mta-request@mit.edu. Percussionists will be given access to the Kresge Percussion Studio, and can also request access by emailing mta-request@mit.edu.