Thursday, May 4, 2023

Melanie Kalnins
Vice President of Marketing and Patron Engagement



Naples, FL (May 4, 2023) — Artis—Naples is pleased to announce the appointment of Emmy-nominated music director, bassist, educator and composer Brandon Robertson as director of its Naples Philharmonic Youth Jazz Orchestra.

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“We are thrilled to welcome Brandon Robertson to Artis—Naples as the leader of our Naples Philharmonic Youth Jazz Orchestra,” said Kathleen van Bergen, CEO and president of

Artis—Naples. “Brandon brings a wealth of experience as an active performer, educator and mentor with great perspective on jazz as a living, evolving art form that honors its past while pushing the boundaries of its future. We know he will inspire this next generation of young musicians, and we look forward to working with him!”

She continued, “We are also deeply grateful to Lew Del Gatto for his leadership and mentorship of these young musicians as interim director this past season, following the untimely death of the ensemble’s founder and longtime leader, Dan Miller. Lew’s expertise and guiding hand were exactly what the students needed during this time of transition, and we appreciate how generous he was with his time and attention.”

Robertson added, “I am delighted and honored to become the newest director of the Naples Philharmonic Youth Jazz Orchestra. My sole objective is to continue cultivating a thriving musical environment for students to grow in this wonderful music we play called JAZZ. I am dedicated and committed to seeing this program prosper for years to come.  In honor of my great friend, the late Dan Miller, I want to cherish his memories of this ensemble by ensuring the students remember his legacy and teachings. I look forward to working with the wonderful Artis—Naples staff and learning more about this incredible organization. To the greater Southwest Florida area, thank you in advance for your continued support of jazz education!”

A prominent bandleader, Robertson has engaged in numerous U.S. tours with his band, headlining at some of the top jazz venues in the country, such as The Palladium, Blues Alley, The Jazz Kitchen, The BOP STOP, The Jazz Estate, The Side Door, Twins Jazz, Velvet Note and many others. He has also appeared with notable acts such as the legendary Count Basie Orchestra led by director Scotty Barnhart, Jason Marsalis, Marcus Roberts, Leroy Jones, Charlie McCoy, Greg Tardy and Marcus Printup, and he has toured 22 countries in Europe, traveling from the Mediterranean to the capital of Iceland.

In addition, Robertson has been a featured performer and bandleader at jazz festivals around the country, including headline appearances in Jacksonville, Tampa Bay, Clearwater, Savannah, Miami and many other cities.

Robertson is currently the recipient of the John & Dorothy Guigon Endowed Directorship of Jazz Studies at Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) in Fort Myers, Florida. He is an honorary member of the Kappa Kappa Psi Mu Upsilon Chapter at Florida Gulf Coast University. Robertson was nominated for an Emmy Award for best documentary for educational collegiate programs featuring the FGCU Jazz Ensemble.

Marking its eighth season in 2022-23, the Naples Philharmonic Youth Jazz Orchestra is composed of more than two dozen high school students from Lee and Collier counties in Southwest Florida. As members of the NPYJO, these talented students learn jazz techniques and style in a big band setting by blending with the other players, focusing on the swing feel and improvising by playing music written by the masters of the idiom, including Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and others. The NPYJO performs three concerts each season on Artis—Naples Kimberly K. Querrey and Louis A. Simpson Cultural Campus.

Robertson assumes his new post in the fall of 2023.