Dear Band Director:

It is my pleasure to invite you and your large and small jazz ensembles to participate in the 28th Annual Elon University Jazz Festival, held Friday, February 23, 2024. Our festival will afford your bands the opportunity to perform and be critiqued by working jazz performers and educators. Plus, you and your band can benefit from the helpful workshops held during the event.

Several features will once again highlight this year’s festival. First, one hour of renewal credit will be available for you when you attend the workshops. I will send you written confirmation certifying your completion of the workshops (please show this email and the schedule of events to your personnel director for their advance approval). Also, I will schedule in advance audition times with you for any of your seniors who would like to audition for entrance for acceptance or scholarship into the Elon music program while they are on campus for the festival.

This year’s featured guest artist is award-winning jazz trumpeter, composer, and educator Kris Johnson, Director of the Michigan State Community Music School. Kris’s professional career has included playing in and arranging for the Count Basie Orchestra, directing the University of Utah Jazz Studies program, composing for musicals and films including the Emmy-nominated web series “King Ester,” and producing successful personal projects, such as his #looptherapy album and his Kris Johnson Big Band YouTube series. Kris will be performing with Elon University students and faculty on both Friday and Saturday and will be presenting a masterclass for all visiting schools after the performances conclude on Friday.

New this year, held in conjunction with the festival is Elon Jazz Day Saturday, February 24. Open to intermediate to advanced high school student participation by nomination from a teacher or jazz director, Elon Jazz Day includes improvisation workshops, masterclasses for individual instruments, Elon faculty-coached combos with other motivated and experienced high school jazz musicians from across the region, and a special masterclass with our visiting guest artist. Nomination is open to students from all schools, whether participating in the rest of the festival or not. Nominated students will have shown a motivation to pursue the study of jazz and may be considering continued study at the college or professional level. Free lunch will be provided! If you would like to nominate one or more students, please fill out this form, or send an email with the names and email addresses of the nominees to by February 6 or sooner! Nominated students who accept our invitation to Jazz Day must complete, sign, and return the downloadable Elon Jazz Day 2024 Registration and Consent Form to Dr. Alex Heitlinger at with the signature of a parent or guardian.

I hope you can join us for the event. It promises to be an exciting educational experience for all involved. Please fill out the Registration Form (which includes Festival Guidelines) and view the Tentative Schedule, which will be updated as the event nears. Please note that registration is available on a first come, first served basis. The registration deadline is January 31, 2024. Should you need any more information, feel free to contact me.



Dr. Alex Heitlinger, Festival Host

Director of Jazz Studies

Elon University