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A Community Jazz Orchestra of Professional Etiquette


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This is a real community jazz orchestra,” says former nine year director Thomas ‘Shab’ Wirtel. “We’re made up of teachers, students, computer technicians, but we all love music. We really get into it.”

Brian Choban of Normal, Illinois has played the trumpet with the group since its beginning. Involved in band programs since the fourth grade, Brian joined because he could continue to gig with a professional group without having to go on the road with a traveling band. “It’s a good way to keep playing and still be at home with my family”, he says “Plus, this is a community group and I like that idea. I get to play in my town, for people I know. I’m not playing for strangers, but my own community.”

Heartland Jazz Orchestra takes its role as a professional organization seriously.

The group sponsors outreach programs such as hosting guest artists to join them at their concerts and other venues. Students are often discounted to increase participation. The band also hosts free clinics for students involved in jazz programs at their schools.

Tim Byrne of Bloomington has been a trombone player with the band, also since the group’s first performance. “I played in school, and this orchestra gives me the chance to continue playing.” he says.”

This truly is the ‘heart-land’ orchestra,” says Wirtel. “They’re playing from the heart. This band is not like other bands . There are no false masks or big egos here. It’s just real honest, juicy music.”

Current band leader David Hoffman states that “The members of the HJO are very dedicated to both jazz and jazz education, and most of all, play music joyfully from their hearts!”


HJO performs at schools, dances, festivals, fund-raisers, concerts, and anywhere there’s a crowd pining for jazz music. HJO caters to numerous styles and jazz. Contact us now to have HJO at your next event!

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