Emiliano Sampaio

9 October 2021

ARTikulationen 2021
Artistic Research Journeys


Restructuring Hierarchy Within and Between Jazz and Classical Orchestras

  • Jazz
  • Composition
  • Arrangement
  • Third Stream

This artistic research focuses on music for jazz symphonic orchestra (JSO), a type of ensemble that mixes two important cultural traditions in music: the symphony orchestra and the jazz big band. My investigation is based on my artistic exploration as a way of questioning the established vertical hierarchy that tends to be present in large jazz ensembles, asking the main question: how can we establish communication between jazz and classical musicians, empowering them to engage in collaboration in large ensemble contexts? To answer this question, I focused on creating mechanisms to change the social dynamic in large ensembles, and exploring ways of incorporating improvisation in these contexts.

During a preliminary research phase, I examined the establishment of the jazz symphonic orchestras in the historical context, linking it with the development of “third stream” music and showing the aesthetic and social implications that this cultural establishment currently reproduces, using examples from the two most active JSOs in the world, the Metropole Orkest (Netherlands) and the Orquestra Jazz Sinfônica do Estado de São Paulo (Brazil).

However, the core of this artistic research is my own artistic practice. In this phase, I composed a total of 18 pieces of music for four distinct large ensembles. The pieces were rehearsed, performed live and recorded. Besides the artistic practice itself, ethnography and qualitative research support the research methodology, in the form analyses of the artistic results (recordings and videos) and collected data (interviews and documentation of the process). As a result, a dissertation complements the artistic component of the research: it is a report, discussion and reflection on the practical experiences and how the process affected me, on the social relations in the large ensembles and our experience of making music.

I believe that focusing our attention on large jazz ensembles and researching the aesthetic and social possibilities that alternative hierarchy and leadership models offer can help us think about our contemporary world – a world in which different cultures are very close and cooperation is more essential than ever before.


Emiliano Sampaio is guitarist, trombonist, conductor, arranger and composer. He was born in São Paulo (Brazil) in 1984, studied music firstly at the University of Campinas and develops his Doctoral Research nowadays at the University of Music and Performing Art of Graz.

Emiliano released eleven albums as bandleader with his trio, his nonet and his own big band and his music was played in important Brazilian, Australian and European jazz clubs and festivals.

As composer and instrumentalist, Emiliano got the 3rd Prize in the Jazz Comp Graz Composition Contest and more than ten Downbeat Student Awards in the categories “Best Jazz Guitar Player”, “Best Blues/Pop Guitar Player”, “Best Arranger”, “Best Composer for Large Ensemble”, etc.

As a conductor, arranger and composer, he has worked with diverse professional big bands and orchestras around the globe such as Metropole Orkest (Holland), HR Big Band (Frankfurt), Lungau Big Band (Salzburg), JazzKombinat (Hamburg), Uptown Big Band (Bern), Wayjo (Perth), Toshi Clinch Big Band (Melbourne), Fete Huppe (Hannover), Big Band Copenhagen, HRT Croatian Radio Band, Regensburg University Jazz Orchestra, Graz Composers Orchestra, Mere Big Band (São Paulo), Soundscape (São Paulo), Speaking Jazz Big Band (São Paulo), Badi Assad, Dominguinhos, the Trombone Quartet of Campinas, etc.

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External Advisors