MacArthur Award for Creative & Effective Institutions

MacArthur Award for Creative & Effective Institutions / Meet the 2016 Recipients

Chicago Jazz Philharmonic

Chicago, Illinois
Published February 18, 2016
Image of Chicago Jazz Philharmonic

Scenes from Life: Cuba!; Photo: Darron Jones

Pushing the boundaries of jazz and classical music

The Chicago Jazz Philharmonic is a 55-piece orchestra that composes and performs complex works locally, nationally, and internationally.

Its distinctive sound, which combines the rapid, spontaneous, and improvisational rhythms of jazz with classical symphonic elements pushes the boundaries of both art forms.

Orbert Davis, Founder and Artistic Director; Photo: Darron Jones

Its programming includes guest performances, performances of original works, and an arts education program of instruction and enrichment for those in kindergarten to college.

Its artistic accomplishments are matched by increasingly sophisticated operating practices. A good example of its savvy as an institution came recently on its trip to Cuba, partially funded by MacArthur’s International Connections Fund. Chicago Jazz Philharmonic happened to be in Cuba rehearsing with young Cuban artists when news broke that the United States and Cuba would reestablish a formal relationship after more than 50 years. It was a special moment that the organization captured on film, leading to an appearance on CBS’s 60 Minutes. The Jazz Philharmonic then performed a concert with Cuban artists in Chicago, introducing into its repertoire another music style that it plans to explore in future years.

The Chicago Jazz Philharmonic will use its $400,000 MacArthur Award to establish an operating fund; it will use a small portion for strategic planning.


Grantee Profile: Learn more about Chicago Jazz Philharmonic

Arts & Culture in Chicago, Arts & Culture

For More Information



Twitter: @chijazzphil

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The Award, which recognizes exceptional nonprofit organizations that are engaged in the Foundation’s core fields of work and helps ensure their long-term sustainability, provides each organization with $200,000 to $1 million.