SMTD offers a vast breadth of performance opportunities in every discipline—literally hundreds of student performances take place during the academic year in our celebrated concert halls and theatres, and in our intimate recital halls. In music, there are instrumental ensembles that range from small chamber groups to 90-piece orchestras and bands, and choirs of many configurations and sizes. Whether your focus is on early, classical, or contemporary music or your passion is for jazz, electronic, or world music, there is an ensemble—or in many cases, multiple ensembles—to suit your interests, including specific opportunities for percussion, piano, and organ & carillon. In theatre & drama, musical theatre, dance, and opera, opportunities abound in both professionally produced and student-run presentations.
All ensembles at the University of Michigan are open to any Michigan student. Most require previous experience and an audition. Some are designated for non-music students and are less competitive and time-consuming than those intended for SMTD students.
For current ensemble guidelines, syllabi, and schedules, please see the Ensembles Office.
The University of Michigan Symphony Band is a leader of the wind band movement in America. Through recordings and performances in prestigious venues such as New York’s Carnegie Hall, Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, Beijing’s National Center for the Performing Arts, and Milan’s La Scala , the U-M Symphony Band is known for its professional quality of performance and keen sense of “trailblazing” in building repertoire.
The Symphony Band splits into chamber groups for one concert each term, allowing the musicians to improve communications between instrument sections, helping to build a more cohesive band when they again rehearse as a full ensemble. The Chamber Winds perform both standard and modern works.
Concert Band Courtney Snyder, conductor
Concert Band provides large ensemble performance experiences in a wide range of musical styles and periods for all wind and percussion performers at U-M. The music performed varies from term to term and is selected to provide a challenging opportunity for musical growth.
University and Campus Bands John Pasquale, conductor and Richard Frey, conductor
Primarily for non-music majors who desire a concert band experience, the University and Campus Bands are open to the entire U-M community and offer a great opportunity to enjoy an immersive musical experience and to learn from SMTD’s renowned faculty. The University Band is the most advanced non-music-major band and placement is by audition. Campus Band is open to any student with experience. Piano, harp and string bass players are encouraged to participate. Rehearsals take place in Revelli Hall, located near Michigan Stadium.
Campus Band Chamber Ensembles
Open to any student with previous instrumental music experience, this course offers the experience of working in a small group setting. The rehearsal time is determined by the members of each chamber ensemble. Resources for literature, practice facilities, and coaching are provided by the instructor. Ensembles are expected to rehearse weekly and perform on a class recital at the end of the term.
Michigan Marching Band
Open to all U-M students, including those at Dearborn and Flint, the Michigan Marching Band has thrilled hundreds of thousands of fans with exciting performances for more than 100 years, making it one of the great college bands in the country. A beloved U-M cultural ambassador, the MMB inspires school spirit as it “takes the field” at the Big House in Ann Arbor, and at away football games, throughout the fall semester. The MMB has performed at Super Bowls, Rose Bowls, Gator Bowls and more.
Athletic (Pep) Bands
Performing at a wide array of U-M athletic events, the Pep Bands are open to all University of Michigan students and offer an opportunity to participate as musicians in Michigan’s storied athletic program.
Small ensembles from the traditional to the new:
Mixed Ensembles including any combination of strings, winds, piano, percussion, and voice
Ensembles studying different styles: roots music, improvisation, commissions, and other
Chamber Arts Ensemble: advanced course providing a nose-to-tail experience of putting on mixed media events
Chamber Choir, Eugene Rogers, conductor
Led by the Director of Choral Activities, the Chamber Choir performs 6-8 concerts annually in both Hill Auditorium and in special settings, such as the University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA), and is often featured at high profile U-M special events. The Chamber Choir has been featured on GRAMMY-winning and GRAMMY-nominated albums; sung with the Detroit and Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestras; performed at conventions of the ACDA and NCCO; and has toured internationally. They perform, standard, classical, and contemporary choral works and often perform commissioned works in world premieres.
Orpheus Singers Eugene Rogers, director
A seminar-style choir, conducted and led by the choral conducting studio, this is the smallest SMTD choir and typically consists of about 25 music-majors. The repertoire is primarily Classical and Baroque.
University Choir Mark Stover, conductor
The University Choir, led by the Assistant Director of Choral Activities, performs 6 times each year in Hill Auditorium and often collaborates with the University Symphony Orchestra singing celebrated symphonic chorales and other masterworks. A large SATB choir, the ensemble is open to all but demands extensive rehearsals and performances.
Singers in the Opera Chorus perform in opera productions presented by University Productions (UPROD). These professional quality performances include both classic and contemporary operas, offering a wide range of experience in ensemble opera work.
Men’s Glee Club Mark Stover, conductor
Founded in 1859, the Men’s Glee Club is one of the oldest collegiate chorus in the United States and the oldest continually-run student organization on the Michigan campus. Long acclaimed as one of the finest male choruses in the world, the Glee Club, comprising graduate and undergraduate students from across the university, has become renowned for its wide repertoire, including world premieres. The Friars, an eight-member subset of the Glee Club, serve as an extension of Club as they maintain an ambitious performing schedule.
Women’s Glee Club Julie Skadsem, conductor
The Women’s Glee Club (WGC) is a choral ensemble representing undergraduate and graduate women from diverse fields across the U-M campus. Composed primarily of non-music majors, WGC gives female students the opportunity to express their love of music through performance, community outreach and travel.
UMS Choral Union
Formed in 1879, the UMS Choral Union is known for its definitive performances of large-scale works for chorus and orchestra and has performed with many of the world’s distinguished orchestras and conductors. Primarily comprising non-music students and Ann Arbor community members, the 175-voice Choral Union performs an annual concert of Handel’s Messiah in Hill Auditorium with the Ann Arbor Symphony as well as other concerts that vary from year to year.
The Arts Chorale is the official choir of the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts. It provides a fun and enriching environment for students who enjoy singing. A mixed choir that is open to any U-M student, the Arts Chorale is a musical and social group that has existed at the University for over 60 years. Although affiliated with SMTD, most members are not music majors
Residential College Singers
Open to students of the Residential College, this ensemble rehearses twice weekly and prepares a thematic concert of music. Vocal skills, sight singing, and basic musicianship are stressed. No audition or prerequisites are necessary, but a commitment to the group and a dedication to musical growth within the term are required. The Singers rehearse on Central Campus.
U-M dancers are proactive in pursuing a variety of opportunities to perform both within and beyond the Department, developing their own unique performance and choreography portfolio over the course of their time at U-M.
Power Center Concert: Students perform faculty and guest artist choreography in this major annual production of the department, held in 1,400-seat Power Center theater.
First Year Touring Company: First year dance majors perform faculty, guest artist and student choreography in multiple locations throughout southeast Michigan (e.g., schools, senior centers, hospitals).
MFA Thesis Performances: Second year graduate students produce performances at the culmination of their degree, often casting students from the department.
BFA Senior Concerts: Seniors produce performances at the culmination of their degree, often casting students from the department.
Ann Arbor Dance Works: Resident professional company of the department, featuring chamber works by faculty and guest artists.
Emerging Artists Concert: Choreography showcase for students to exhibit non-class related work.
American College Dance Association: Regional conference
Digital Music Ensemble (DME) – Stephen Rush, director
DME is a technology-based interdisciplinary performance troupe that collaborates in the creation and performance of new works of art or performs historically innovative works. DME uses methods of open-ended critical inquiry to challenge meaning in the creation, realization and performance of art. The Fall semester is focused on readings concerning the Labyrinth tradition in many cultures, culminating in the recurring work “Gypsy Pond Music,” a sonic, site-specific installation involving sculpture and algorithmic computer music.
Electronic Chamber Music, Michael Gurevich, director
Small ensembles of musicians are formed to create and perform contemporary chamber music. Various approaches to composition and group collaboration are explored through the integration of various categories of instruments including acoustic, electronic, electroacoustic hybrids, performance controllers, and computers.
Jazz Ensemble Ellen Rowe, director
The University of Michigan Jazz Ensemble is the most competitive of the University’s jazz ensembles. Open by audition only, most seats are filled by majors within the Department of Jazz and Contemporary Improvisation. The ensemble meets twice a week for two hours, performs several times a semester on campus and off.
Jazz Lab Ensemble Dennis Wilson, director
Designed to rehearse, perform, and examine the repertoire of the jazz big band, the Jazz Lab Ensemble explores classic, historically significant repertoire as well as new arrangements and/or compositions. Occasionally non-traditional jazz instruments are used to highlight and expand the diversity of the ensemble. This is also a class that is intended to develop the necessary skills of section lead playing, rehearsal techniques, jazz phrasing and styles. A wide selection of materials is used to attain these goals including the music of classic big bands such as the Thad Jones Orchestra, Count Basie Orchestra, Dizzy Gillespie Band, Oliver Nelson, Duke Pearson and Duke Ellington Orchestra. The ensemble periodically rehearses and performs the music of student arrangers as well. Each year the ensemble performs with guest artists, and student composers are given the opportunity to help compose and arrange a unique selection for the guests.
Chamber Jazz Ensemble
Chamber Jazz Ensemble is a course devoted to small group jazz performance. Offered in both the fall and winter terms, students are divided into approximately 6 ensemble, ranging in size from trios to septets.
Creative Arts Orchestra Mark Kirschenmann, director
This is a unique, largely improvisation-based group that invites interaction with other performance fields such as dance, theatre, and music technology.
Campus Jazz Ensemble
The University of Michigan Campus Jazz Ensemble is the premier non-major jazz performing experience offered by the School of Music, Theatre & Dance. Acceptance into the group is by audition only. Auditions happen on the first normally scheduled rehearsal evening and results are posted before the next rehearsal.
Michigan offers extraordinary performance opportunities. Revues, Broadway musicals, operettas, new and experimental works — all of these are part of the daily life of a Musical Theatre student. Productions presented by the Department have ranged from a lavish revue saluting the music of Broadway composer Cy Coleman (SWEET CHARITY, CITY OF ANGELS, THE LIFE) to the world premiere of a musical by Sheldon Harnick (FIDDLER ON THE ROOF) and Joe Raposo titled A WONDERFUL LIFE, based on the popular Jimmy Stewart film. The Department presented the first revival since Broadway of the legendary Kurt Weill/Alan Jay Lerner 1948 musical, LOVE LIFE.
Other shows have included DISNEY’S THE LITTLE MERMAID, THE DROWSY CHAPERONE, GUYS AND DOLLS, CABARET, 42nd STREET (directed by Debra Ann Draper, who was the dance captain for the Broadway production), SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE, THE MOST HAPPY FELLA, PARADE, LES MISÉRABLES, and CITY OF ANGELS. Another production, QUILT, inspired by stories connected with the AIDS memorial quilt, has music composed by U-M graduate Michael Stockler. Department students also participated in a staged reading on campus of the new musical SUMMER OF ’42, written by two graduates, David Kirshenbaum and Hunter Foster.
In addition, Musical Theatre majors often participate in MUSKET shows (student-produced musicals), Gilbert and Sullivan Society operettas, faculty-directed plays, and productions by the Ann Arbor Civic Theatre as well as the Michigan Opera Theatre. The University is also affiliated with the Purple Rose Theatre in Chelsea, Michigan, founded by actor Jeff Daniels.
Musical Theatre and Theatre students produce around 20 plays each year through the Basement Arts company. Students select the plays which they direct, design and perform. These performances are free and open to the public.
The Opera Program at the University of Michigan is one of the most renowned in the world, with graduates achieving national and international careers as singing-actors and music educators. As a cornerstone program in the School of Music, Theatre, and Dance, students interested in developing their skills as opera performers are able to take advantage of all the offerings within these disciplines in an environment that is focused on carefully building technique, while at the same time offering many performance opportunities for both undergraduate and graduate students.
University Symphony Orchestra, Kenneth Kiesler, conductor
The USO strives for and attains the highest level of excellence as a symphony orchestra. Led by the Director of Orchestras, the USO has performed on GRAMMY Award-winning and GRAMMY-nominated albums and is committed to performing the greatest works in the symphonic repertoire from the Classical, Romantic, and Modern eras, with concerts in historic Hill Auditorium. The USO frequently commissions new works, performs with celebrated guest soloists, and is one of the ensembles that accompanies the SMTD Concerto Competition winners.
University Philharmonia Orchestra, Adrian Slywotsky, conductor
With a string section comprising all freshman, the Philharmonia Orchestra provides student musicians an immersive opportunity to improve their large ensemble skills and play some of the greatest works in the symphonic repertoire.
Contemporary Directions Ensemble, Adrian Slywotsky, conductor
This ensemble, for graduate music students only, performs contemporary classical music in a variety of instrumentations, from solo works to chamber orchestra. The CDE frequently commissions and performs new works and hosts renowned guest artists and composer residencies. The CDE artistic advisor is SMTD composition professor Roshanne Etezady. The group performs at both Hill Auditorium and the University of Michigan Museum of Art.
Pit Orchestras (Opera and Musical Theatre)
Campus Symphony Orchestra
Open to students across campus, the Campus Symphony provides an opportunity for non-music majors to perform great symphonic works under the direction of SMTD graduate student instructors in conducting, with concerts performed in historic Hill Auditorium.
Campus Philharmonia Orchestra
For non-music majors who desire an opportunity to improve their large ensemble skills, the Campus Symphony welcomes students from across campus. They are led by SMTD graduate student instructors in conducting and perform concerts in Hill Auditorium.
Organ Performance Opportunities
Annual Organ Conferences
Students have opportunities to perform at the University of Michigan Organ Conference, an annual tradition for almost 60 years. In addition to performances by international concert artists, alumni and faculty, there are usually two recitals by UM organ students.
Brown Bag Recital Series
These concerts take place every other Wednesday during the Fall and Winter Terms from 12:15-12:45pm in the Community Room of the School of Public Health. The series features organ concerts by University of Michigan students, alumni and local organists, performed on the Létourneau organ (II/12). Two concerts each semester feature baroque vocal and instrumental music performed on period instruments by University of Michigan students.
Organ students are often invited to perform with the University of Michigan orchestras, bands and choral ensembles. There are also opportunities for continuo playing on organ and harpsichord with the baroque chamber ensembles and baroque orchestra.
Outreach Group Recitals
The Organ Department organizes several recitals each term in local churches in the communities surrounding Ann Arbor and Detroit. These concerts give students invaluable experience in performing on different instruments. Donations collected at the concerts have been used to subsidize students’ expenses for our international study trips to France and Germany.
Students are invited to perform in several recitals each year that are organized by the Ann Arbor and Detroit Chapters of the American Guild of Organists. Annual events include a Christmas concert and a Lenten Recital Series featuring the Karl Wilhelm organ (III/39) at First Congregational Church of Ann Arbor.
Carillon Performance Opportunities
Afternoon carillon recitals
Half-hour recitals are given on weekdays throughout the academic year and are open to the public to view. Intermediate and advanced carillon students may perform for the campus regularly on these recitals.
Student Guild recitals
The student carillon guild organizes monthly recitals on both towers as well as special themed concerts.
Every semester, the carillon studio goes on a half-day field trip to carillons in the state of Michigan and gives public performances. Students plan the tour in conjunction with the instructor.
Carillon students have annual opportunities to collaborate with Performing Arts Technology classes to present new music carillon concerts augmented with electronics.
Special campus-wide events
Advanced students have opportunities to play the carillon for special campus events. Recent examples include the Historical Keyboard Society of North America annual meeting, the Bicentennial Carillon Illumination Inauguration, the Mobile Millennium Carillon concert with handbell ensemble, Resonance and Remembrance: An Interdisciplinary Campanology Symposium, and the Interdisciplinary Conference on Netherlandic Studies.
The GRAMMY-nominated University of Michigan Percussion Ensemble has commissioned, performed, and recorded works from a global array of musical cultures. Many of the compositions it has premiered have gone on to enter the standard percussion canon. The ensemble has toured Internationally including successful tours of Japan and Taiwan where it performed with marimba virtuoso Keiko Abe and participated in a televised concert with the famed traditional-music group, Pro Musica Nipponia. The ensemble has also been a featured ensemble at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention (PASIC), the American Orff-Schulwerk Association International Convention, and has performed in Merkin Hall, NYC. Closer to its Michigan home, the group has often performed as part of the Michigan Music Conference, the Thunder Bay Arts Council’s Artist Series, the Holland Festival as well as a recent “In the Shop” webcast/concert from the factory floor of Black Swamp Percussion.
The percussion ensemble has several recordings to its credit,including Border Crossing, Imaginary Landscape, Coyote Dreams, and Transmutations and Metamorphoses, all available on the Equilibrium label. The ensemble’s newest CD entitled, Locally Grown, features works by Michigan percussion and composition program alumni, including David Hollinden, Gabriela Frank, Anthony DiSanza, Kristen Kuster, and Erik Santos.
Accompanying (lessons, ensembles, dance classes)
The Dept. of Theatre & Drama, in collaboration with University Productions, presents four to five fully-mounted main stage shows each year, with casts comprised of acting majors. These plays are directed by faculty and guest directors. Additional faculty, guests, and BFA students complete the creative production teams. Design & Production majors work as stage managers, shop assistants and technicians for each production, and talented students may design costumes, sets or lighting for these productions. Theatre students also crew for the School of Music, Theatre & Dance opera, musical theatre, and dance productions.
The student run theatre organization, Basement Arts, presents a variety of work fully conceived and produced by students. The company produces 15-20 shows each year on weekends, in the Newman Studio.
Other University of Michigan Productions
Theatre students also produce, direct, design and perform in plays produced by various university groups such as the Gilbert & Sullivan Society, MUSKET, the Rude Mechanicals, and others.
A number of our faculty and students work with the local professional theatre, including the Purple Rose, The Tipping Point Theatre, and Detroit Public Theatre. In addition, students often work with community and high school theatres in the area.
On hiatus 2020-2021
Part of the Stearns Collection of Musical Instruments, the U-M gamelan, named Kyai Telaga Madu (Venerable Lake of Honey), offers ensemble members the opportunity to explore new music composed for gamelan and helps train an important generation of scholars in Southeast Asian music. Gamelan performances bring the music, dance and puppetry of Central Java to the stage in Ann Arbor, often featuring eminent Javanese artists-in-residence. Productions can feature up to 100 student dancers, gamelan musicians, puppeteers, and actors. The gamelan program is part of U-M’s Center for Southeast Asian Studies at LSA.