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Bethesda Blues & Jazz Youth Orchestra

The Bethesda Blues & Jazz Foundation, located in Bethesda, Maryland, is a nonprofit, music and education organization. Its mission is to provide an educational environment and opportunities for young musicians to experience and perform jazz music. The Foundation created the Bethesda Blues and Jazz Youth Orchestra (BBJYO) in April, 2017, for musicians from the ages of 11 to 17. The BBJYO rehearses in the historic Bethesda Theatre under the direction of trumpeter and music educator, Kenny Rittenhouse, and pianist and music educator, Bob Murad.


Our students  have the opportunity to play with some of the greatest jazz players and jazz bands preforming today. Since its founding in 2017, the group has performed with the Grammy award winning Bassist Ben Williams (Downbeat 2017 Critics Poll Winner, Bass), the Grammy nominated Count Basie Orchestra, the award winning vibraphonist Warren Wolf (Downbeat 2017 Critics Poll Winner, Vibraphone), the Grammy nominated jazz vocalist Freddy Cole, a award wining pianist Sullivan Fortner (Downbeat 2019 Critics Poll Winner, Rising Star Piano), and award winning trumpeter Sean Jones. 


Our students also get to be part of the local jazz scene.  As working jazz players themselves in the District and Maryland, Fred and Bob are able to find opportunities for our children to perform at area jazz venues. Members of the BBJYO have performed at the George Mason University Jazz Festival, Alice’s Jazz & Cultural Center, the John Wesley A.M.E. Zion Church, the Shepard Park Elementary School Jazz Festival, and on the Montgomery County Community Television show, “Jazz Encounters.”

The Bethesda Blues & Jazz Youth Orchestra presents our contribution to Jazz and Justice with “Got To Have Freedom,” by the legendary jazz tenor saxophonist Pharoah Sanders. We share our love for this great American indigenous music and strive to preserve its rich legacy with an ensemble that reflects our society’s ethnic and gender diversity. We are so very proud of our young jazz musicians!

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