Arranging Ellington

Congratulations to Michael Conrad for his winning submission to the Arranging Ellington project! Our review panel was impressed by the depth and inventiveness of all of the submissions, but Michael’s arrangement of “Come Sunday” was particularly remarkable. 

Due to the high quality of submissions we received, we have decided that two other arrangements from the project will also be performed at the concert on March 30th at Carnegie Hall. We would like to congratulate Dan O’Brien and Stephanie Wieseler on being selected to have their arrangements performed this spring.

Click here to listen to the winning arrangements.

We invite you to arrange one of Duke Ellington's classic sacred compositions as part of the Arranging Ellington project:

  • Create your arrangement of one of Ellington's sacred songs.

  • Get your arrangement performed at Carnegie Hall!


Click here to view the final submissions.


The arranging project is one component of this season’s Creative Learning Project, which shines the spotlight on Duke Ellington’s sacred music, some of the most ambitious and heartfelt music of his legendary career. First heard during three historic concerts in the 1960s and 1970s, these legendary works will be performed this spring by hundreds of student singers and instrumentalists from New York City in collaboration with some of today’s brightest jazz soloists.

Creative work by New York teens will be showcased in a concert on Sunday March 30, 2014, along with two new arrangements from Musical Exchange members like you.

Commission Guidelines

  • Write a new arrangement of either "Come Sunday" or "Almighty God Has Those Angels." Lead sheets for both compositions are available here. Your arrangement should build upon the musical, emotional, and narrative intent of Ellington’s original compositions while illuminating aspects of your personal musical style.
  • You may include any or all of the below instruments in your arrangement:
    • Trumpet, Alto Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone, Trombone, Baritone Saxophone
    • Piano, Bass, Drums
    • Female Voice

    Note: If you include instruments not on this list, your arrangement will not be eligible to be performed at the concert.

  • In keeping with the spirit of Ellington’s music, your arrangement must include space for improvisation.
  • A lead sheet of each song as performed in the Sacred Concert is provided below for reference.
  • Arrangers are expected to participate fully throughout the online project, and their level of engagement with the community will be taken into account in evaluating submissions.
  • The winning arrangement will be performed at Carnegie Hall in a concert featuring creative work tied to the Sacred Ellington project on Sunday March 30, 2014. Although we cannot provide travel or accommodations for arrangers who live outside the New York area, we can offer the winning arranger tickets to the concert as well as an archival recording of the performance.


Click here for lead sheets.

Submission Materials

  1. Full score (one staff for each instrument)
  2. Live recording (preferred) or MIDI (embedded audio from SoundCloud)
  3. Program notes (one or two paragraphs describing how your work relates to Ellington and how it demonstrates your personal musical sensibility)
  4. The winning arranger will also be asked to prepare individual parts for their arrangement, as well as a brief video greeting to introduce themselves and their arrangement during the March 30 concert at Carnegie Hall.


Project artist Darcy James Argue will be posting blogs and resources and providing feedback regularly throughout the project. We encourage you to share your work in progress for feedback, and to comment on the work of your peers. 

Final arrangements must be submitted through Musical Exchange no later than December 15, 2013. Selected arrangements will be announced by the end of January 2014.

Project Artist

Darcy James Argue

Brooklyn-based composer-bandleader Darcy James Argue, a seven-time winner in the DownBeat Critics Poll, is credited with “making the big band cool again” (Time Out New York) and “reinventing the jazz big band for the 21st century” (John L. Walters, The Guardian). 



Featured Performers

Duke Ellington is known for writing for the specific personalities of the musicians in his band. We'd like to give you the same opportunity by sharing with you the names of some of the musicians who will be performing your music. We will introduce additional musicians as the project progresses.

Claudette Sierra, Voice

Chris Washburne, Trombone

Eli Yamin, Piano 

Ole Mathisen, Tenor Saxophone

Doubles: Clarinet, Alto Saxophone

John Walsh, Trumpet




You need to be a member of Carnegie Hall Musical Exchange to add comments!

Comment by assaf gleizner on October 18, 2013 at 5:35pm

Thank you Zack! Will get to work on that one!

Comment by Zack Sulsky on October 18, 2013 at 5:32pm

Hi Assaf -- thanks for your questions. There is only one of each instrument listed available (it is a 9-piece band). For now, assume that only the instruments listed are available; however it is possible that one of the musicians who has yet to be determined will double on another instrument. In that case, we will be sure to let everyone involved in the project know, but you should focus on these ones for the time being.

Comment by assaf gleizner on October 18, 2013 at 5:05pm

Hi there!

I would like to ask a few questions:

1. Just to clarify - is there only one instrument of each mentioned, or would it be a bigband setting (4 trumpets, 5 reed and 5 trombones)?

2. does any of these musician double? (Clarinet, Flute, Flugelhorn, Bass trombone etc)?

Thank you!

Assaf Gleizner


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