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People at Bethel had such diverse interests and experiences…. But when they were at Bethel, they worked at things that made them more alike than different.
Cynthia Doyle Perkins ’77

Mid-Kansas Jazz Ensemble

Bethel College Jazz Ensemble T04M23S

Mid-Kansas Jazz Ensemble is an auditioned group made up of the top high school jazz musicians in south-central Kansas. MKJE provides students with a chance to meet and play with other talented and passionate young jazz musicians.

Rehearsals and performances

MKJE rehearses weekly on Monday nights from 7–9 p.m. at Bethel College in North Newton. The group typically performs one or two concerts per semester. In past years, MKJE has also performed at the Wichita Jazz Festival and Wichita River Festival.


The $75 registration fee per year helps cover purchase of new music, jazz festival registration fees and guest artist expenses for the MKJE Weekend Jazz Workshop.

Mid-Kansas Jazz Ensemble Weekend Jazz Workshop

MKJE students will get a chance to spend a weekend at Bethel College rehearsing and performing with a special guest artist. The weekend will include master classes and performances by the guest artist and local professionals. Exact dates TBD. Please check back for more details.

Audition information

Open auditions for the 2015–16 school year will take place Saturday, Sept. 12, 1–3 p.m., and Monday, Sept. 14, 7–9 p.m.

Auditions will be held at Bethel College in the Luyken Fine Arts Center, Room 142. (Directions to Bethel College campus.)

Audition materials will be the same as for the 2015–16 KSMEA state jazz auditions (for more details, see the KSMEA website).

About the director

James Pisano, equally comfortable as a jazz saxophonist and classical clarinetist, holds an international reputation as a performer. His most recent tour, in May 2015, was to Brazil. He has shared the stage as a soloist with many jazz luminaries, such as Phil Woods, Frank Foster, Louie Bellson, Clark Terry, Harry “Sweets” Edison, Nancy Wilson, James Moody, Hank Jones, The Lionel Hampton Big Band, The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, The Artie Shaw Band, The Cab Calloway Orchestra, the Dizzy Gillespie Reunion Big Band and saxophonists Brad Leali, Dave Pietro and Benny Golson, to name only a few.

As a clarinetist, Pisano has performed in the New World Symphony under Michael Tilson Thomas, as well as the Miami City Ballet and the Florida Philharmonic. He has served in the Wichita Grand Opera orchestra in the position of clarinet/bass clarinet since the company’s premiere performances, in 2001, with Maestros Luciano Pavarotti and Placido Domingo.

Pisano’s performance and teaching invitations have taken him to nearly every state as well as Europe and South Africa. He maintains an active performance schedule – most notably as a member since 2001 of the saxophone section of the Jazz Heritage Orchestra (Cleveland, Ohio), which recently performed with jazz vocalist Vanessa Rubin.

Pisano holds degrees from the University of New Hampshire and the University of Miami (Florida), where he was a member of the award-winning Concert Jazz Band. In May, he completed his residency at the University of Illinois, where he is pursuing a doctoral degree in jazz saxophone.

Pisano has served as director of jazz studies at East Tennessee State University and the University of Idaho’s Lionel Hampton School of Music. He is currently associate professor of music and director of jazz studies at Bethel College.

If you have questions about MKJE, please contact James Pisano at or 316-284-5265.