FRED IRBY, III, director


Fred Irby, III, Professor
(202) 806-7066
Room B-002

Fred Irby, III is a native of Mobile, Alabama, and a graduate of Grambling State University (LA) and Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. As a Professor of Music at Howard University in Washington, DC, he is the Coordinator of Instrumental Music, trumpet instructor, and Director of the internationally acclaimed Howard University Jazz Ensemble (HUJE). The HUJE has given concerts in 12 states and the District of Columbia in the United States, Romania, Venezuela, Colombia, Guatemala, China, Japan, Senegal, West Africa, Haiti, Jamaica, Trinidad, Martinique, St. Thomas, and St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, produced 44 consecutive recordings in a distinguished series that began in 1976 and the ensemble was featured during the Kennedy Center Honors Gala (CBS-TV) in 1992 (Lionel Hampton), 1996 (Benny Carter) & 2005 (Tony Bennett), and other national and international televised events.

Mr. Irby is the Principal Trumpet of the Kennedy Center Opera House Musical Theater Orchestra and is in demand as a trumpet artist, conductor, clinician, adjudicator, and consultant. Mr. Irby commissioned and premiered compositions by two eminent African American composers: Ulysses S. Kay (nephew of the legendary New Orleans jazz cornetist Joe “King” Oliver), TROMBA: Suite for B-Flat Trumpet and Piano, and Frederick C. Tillis, Spiritual Fantasy #1 for Piccolo Trumpet and Piano. He performed in the orchestras for two significant recordings by the Baltimore Choral Arts Society: Dave Brubeck’s cantata, The Gates of Justice, with the composer as the piano soloist and Christmas at America’s First Cathedral, recorded at the beautiful Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. He served as Musical Director for the Washington Ballet in 2004 during the 17th International Ballet Festival in Havana, Cuba. In 2013, Mr. Irby and The Howard University Jazztet were invited by the U. S. Embassy in Dakar, Senegal to represent the USA in the international St. Louis Jazz Festival, the largest jazz festival in Africa. They also performed in Louga and Dakar, Senegal and had a private audience with the Minister of Tourism and Culture, the legendary Senegalese musician Youssou N’Dour.

He has performed in the orchestras for the 87th, 88th, 89th, and 90th Academy Awards Gala (Oscars), 56th Primetime Emmy Awards, Dancing with the Stars, America’s Got Talent, The Gershwin Awards, The Horatio Alger Awards, and was principal trumpet for the cast album of the Stephen Sondheim musical “BOUNCE”. He was designated a Lowell Mason Fellow by the National Association for Music Education (2009), received the 2009 Disney Performing Arts Award for Excellence in Teaching Jazz, was inducted into the Grambling State University “Alumni Hall of Fame” (2008), and inducted into the Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville “Alumni Hall of Fame” (2016), received an Achievement Award in Jazz Education (2008) from downbeat magazine, received the Ronnie Wells Jazz Service Award during the 2016 Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival and was given a Lifetime Achievement Award (presented by the late pianist and HUJE alum Geri Allen) during the 2016 DC Jazz Festival Gala at the Kennedy Center. He has served as the Music Director of the Maryland, Oklahoma, Northwest MENC All-State Honor Jazz Ensembles and the inaugural MENC Honor Jazz Ensemble. He is an honorary member of the Board of Directors of the Washington Jazz Arts Institute (WJAI) and the International Women’s Brass Conference (IWBC). He has served as an adjudicator for the downbeat magazine Student Music Awards, the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation, and the Congressional Black Caucus Spouses Foundation Performing Arts Scholarship. Professor Irby established the Benny Golson Jazz Master Award in 1996 to honor the legacy of the 1996 NEA Jazz Master and was instrumental in him receiving an Honorary Doctorate in Music from his alma mater (Howard University) in 2014. Additionally, he was instrumental in creating the endowed Abraham S. Venable Scholarship for students in the Jazz Studies program at Howard University. During the 2022 Inaugural Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts Distinguished Faculty and Staff Awards, Mr. Irby received three (3) Awards: Outstanding Creative Work, Outstanding Teaching, and Outstanding Service.

Mr. Irby holds active membership in the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra, NAfME: The National Association for Music Education, ITG: The International Trumpet Guild, ICSOM: The International Association of Symphony and Opera Musicians, the American Federation of Musicians, a member of the Board of Directors of the Washington Jazz Arts Institute (WJAI) the International Women’s Brass Conference (IWBC) and is an Artist Advisory Board member for the Philadelphia Clef Club of Jazz and Performing Arts.

Professor Irby has been a member of the Howard University Department of Music faculty since 1974.

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