The Messiah College Jazz Ensemble is regarded as one of the premier college jazz ensembles in Pennsylvania and the surrounding region. The Jazz Ensemble is the most visible element of a jazz program that is comprised of two big bands, small groups, vocal jazz, and applied jazz improvisation lessons.
Jazz has been an important part of the music curriculum at Messiah College since 1969, when Dr. William R. Higgins, Professor Emeritus, founded the college’s first big band. In 1996, Dr. William Stowman took over as only the second director in what is now a very rich forty-four year history of the ensemble. Today’s band plays a mixture of styles, ranging from classic swing charts to modern arrangements.
The band keeps an active touring schedule and plays a significant role in regard to curriculum, advancement, public relations, and other events at the college. The Jazz Ensemble recorded its first album, Swing, Sweet Spirit, in 2005 and plans to record again in 2013.