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We are thrilled to announce the first ever performance of the new West Chester Jazz Orchestra under the direction of Jonathan Ragonese.

“My mission is to present the highest level of creative and improvisational music featuring artists connected to West Chester, Chester County and their community of peers from the tri-state region.” – Jonathan Ragonese

Why is your very first concert the music of Count Basie? 

Bob Curnow (WCU ’63) recently gifted the school his catalog of published works from his company, Sierra Music Publishing. It includes a treasure trove of some of the great works of 20th century big band music. Included in it are some of the original arrangements for the Count Basie band by Benny Carter, Billy Byers and others. As a nice evening that is sure to please a wide audience, it seemed the best way to launch the West Chester Jazz Orchestra.

What is your future vision for WCJO?

Moving forward, my vision for the West Chester Jazz Orchestra is vast.

  • It will include musicians from Chester County, South-eastern PA, Philadelphia and the tri-state area.
  • We will perform original compositions, commission new works, and play a wide array of music for large ensemble
  • I hope that we will feature guest artists regularly
  • With my work at WCU, it is the perfect vehicle for expanding educational offerings to the community!

About Jonathan Ragonese

Jonathan Ragonese, composer-arranger-saxophonist, is a native of New Cumberland, Pennsylvania. He moved to New York City in 2007 to attend the Manhattan School of Music; he has lived and worked there since. As a saxophonist he has performed and recorded with a wide array of musicians including Steve Wilson, David Liebman, the Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra, Tim Warfield, Tin Can Buddha and Steve Rudolph. As a composer his works have been commissioned and premiered by The New York Film Festival, saxophonist Steve Wilson, Jazz @ Lincoln Center, The Museum of Modern Art, the Vermont Mozart Festival Orchestra, the Harrisburg Symphony, the The Righteous Girls, Bucknell University, West Chester University and the Harrisburg Youth Symphony. Pandora’s Box, a new film score for G.W. Pabst’s iconic film, was commissioned by the Film Society of Lincoln Center and premiered at Alice Tully Hall in October of 2017, with Jonathan conducting a 17-piece ensemble. In 2014 Ragonese premiered his ‘Not-this’ for two saxophones, at Carnegie Hall. Jonathan is the Director of Jazz Studies and Instructor of Saxophone at West Chester University of Pennsylvania. Active educational endeavors include lectures, writings, and the development of Music Before Words, a music program for infants with educator Renee Bock. His first recording, Ardent Marigolds, was released in 2013, a duo with musical father Steve Rudolph. two men, singing, a duo album with saxophonist Tim Warfield was released the summer of 2018.

Click here to buy tickets!


May 2
7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
$35 – $40


Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center
226 N High Street
West Chester, PA 19380 United States
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