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Return to Glory II: The Howard University Jazz Ensemble featuring Camille Thurman

Concert Honoring 50 Years of Service

WASHINGTON, D.C. – April 9, 2024 – DC Jazz Festival announced today that Return to Glory II: A Celebration of Fred Irby III and the Howard University Jazz Ensemble will come back to Arena Stage to celebrate one of the titans of jazz education, Professor Fred Irby III, and his 50 years of service to HBCUs. Return to Glory will take place Thursday, April 25, 2024, 7:30 PM, at Arena Stage Kogod Cradle, and will be hosted by Phylicia Rashad, Dean of the Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts, the cultural center of Howard University. The Howard University Jazz Ensemble will feature Camille Thurman, a multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, and cultural ambassador.

Return to Glory II:  A Celebration of Fred Irby III and the Howard University Jazz Ensemble is free with registration. Click here to register.

Fred Irby has established an unparalleled tradition of educating the next generations of jazz contributors for half a century. As a Professor of Music at Howard University in Washington, DC, Irby is the Coordinator of Instrumental Music, Trumpet Instructor, and Director of the internationally acclaimed Howard University Jazz Ensemble (HUJE). The HUJE has performed to sold out audiences throughout the U.S. and abroad with forty-seven recordings in a distinguished series that began in 1976. Under the director of Irby, HUJE has been featured in special performances at the Kennedy Center Honors with Lionel Hampton (1992), Benny Carter (1996), and Tony Bennett (2005). Irby is the Principal Trumpet of the Kennedy Center Opera House Musical Theater Orchestra. His commissions include compositions by two eminent African American composers: Ulysses S. Kay, TROMBA: Suite for B-Flat Trumpet and Piano, and Frederick C. Tillis, Spiritual Fantasy #1 for Piccolo Trumpet, and Piano. During the 2022 Inaugural Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts Distinguished Faculty and Staff Awards, Irby received three Awards: Outstanding Creative Work, Outstanding Teaching, and Outstanding Service.

“We are returning to Arena Stage to celebrate 50 years of excellence, truth and service through music and musical instruction,” said Phylicia Rashad, Dean of the Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts. “Thank you, Fred Irby for this Return, to Glory!”

Return to Glory II is a co-presentation of DC Jazz Festival, the Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts, and Mecca Filmworks with film direction by TL Benton, a Howard University graduate and Emmy-Award winning Producer-Director, and former member of the HUJE.

“DC Jazz Festival is proud to once again partner with the Howard University Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts and Mecca Filmworks to honor Fred Irby for a lifetime of service to HBCUs” said Sunny Sumter, DCJF President and CEO, and former member of the HUJE.

In 2016, Irby received the DC Jazz Festival Lifetime Achievement Award and was inducted into the Southern Illinois University Hall of Fame. Irby established the Benny Golson Jazz Master Award in 1996 to honor the legacy of the 1996 NEA Jazz Master and was instrumental in Golson receiving an Honorary Doctorate in Music from his alma mater (Howard University) in 2014. Return To Glory will also include a very special Benny Golson Award presentation.

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About DC Jazz Festival: The DC Jazz Festival is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that celebrates America’s unique original art form by presenting year-round programs and performances featuring local, national, and internationally acclaimed artists. The mission of the DC Jazz Festival is to present internationally renowned and emerging artists in celebration of jazz, unify diverse communities and enable connections between artists and audiences, advance jazz, and music education, provide performance opportunities for DC-based musicians, and highlight DC as a major and vibrant center for jazz. With dozens of performances in venues across the city, the annual DC JazzFest is one of the largest music festivals in the country. This international event attracts jazz lovers from around the world to the nation’s capital. The 2024 DC JazzFest will take place August 31-September 4. For more information about the DCJF and its activities, visit


About Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts:  In accordance with the mission of Howard University, the College of Fine Arts offers an undergraduate and graduate education capable of empowering students to achieve their tremendous potential as artists and professionals. As the only Historically Black College and University (HBCU) with a college dedicated to the arts, Howard serves as a critical space and provides a supportive environment for artists from historically excluded communities to find their own voice and provide a voice for the voiceless. The College of Fine Arts generates global leadership in the arts and creative economies, giving new shape to wide cross sections of our society and serving as a hub for national and international dialogue about arts and culture. By focusing on an array of disciplines, students have the opportunity to explore the full breadth of their talents while identifying their unique purpose in life and their distinctive duty to their communities. Visit Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts (


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