From large ensembles in celebrated concert halls to chamber groups in intimate recital spaces, performance opportunities across all disciplines abound, with nearly 900 student performances each academic year. Whether your focus is on early, classical, or contemporary music, whether 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. For students in theatre & drama, musical theatre, dance, and opera, opportunities abound in both professionally produced and student-run presentations.
Most production performance opportunities are limited to majors; however, 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.
See the list below for more information by department.
Offers a wide range of opportunities for our artists to integrate developing technique from the work in the classroom to the stage. Whether in the curated UProd season or in the varied student driven experiences offered across the university, there are an abundance of ways to engage one’s evolving craft.
List of Performance Opportunities
With several large ensembles to choose from, wind and percussion students can explore a range of opportunities for immersive performance experiences.
Michael Haithcock, conductor
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. Visit the Symphony Band Youtube channel to watch them perform.
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 includes works for both chamber and large ensemble works and is selected to provide challenging opportunities for musical growth. The Concert Band performs three concerts per semester. See the recent “Let Woman Choose Her Sphere” concert.
University and Campus Bands
John Pasquale, conductor
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 125 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 Michigan Marching and Athletic Bands perform at over 100 events a year, and have represented U-M at Super Bowls, Rose Bowls, World Series, 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, including those at Dearborn and Flint, and offer an opportunity to participate as musicians in Michigan’s storied athletic program.
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.
The carillon studio regularly goes on a day 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 and audience interactivity.
Special campus-wide events
Advanced students have opportunities to play the carillon for special campus events. Recent examples include the Diversity & Belonging: Unsung Keyboard Stories conference with the Westfield Society for Historical Keyboards, the Historical Keyboard Society of North America (HKSNA) 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 thriving chamber music scene at SMTD offers students nearly limitless options to perform, innovate, and collaborate in small, self-driven, and diverse ensembles.
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
Students can explore opportunities across a wide array of SMTD and U-M choirs that perform a range of choral works in world-class venues in Ann Arbor and beyond.
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.
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.
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.
Eugene Rogers, faculty director
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.
Out of the Blue
Eugene Rogers, faculty director
Out of the Blue is an auditioned SMTD outreach choral ensemble that partners with the Prison Creative Arts Project (PCAP) and U-M alumni to bring choral concerts and workshops to prisons, juvenile detention centers and re-entry homes across Southeast Michigan. Comprised of U-M students (music and non-music majors), alumni and community members, the singers receive training from the PCAP Office and Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion on how to thoughtfully perform vocal music in non-traditional settings as well as enhance their knowledge about the history of the Michigan prison system.
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.
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 Dance 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 or third 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.
American College Dance Association
Regional and National Annual Conference
Students can develop teaching, performing, and mentoring skills and connect with young dancers throughout SE Michigan: Oakland Dance Festival, Michigan Dance Council, Michigan Youth Dance Festival
Students interested in historically oriented performance have opportunities to explore music from across the centuries, performed on authentic period instruments and high-quality replicas. The internationally renowned Stearns Collection of Musical Instruments comprises over 2,500 pieces of historical and contemporary musical instruments from all over the world.
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.
With large and small jazz ensembles exploring a range of styles, SMTD offers abundant opportunities for students – music majors and non-majors alike – to perform.
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.
Small Jazz Ensembles
Small Jazz Ensembles is a course devoted to small group jazz performance. Offered in both the fall and winter terms, students are divided into approximately 6 ensembles, ranging in size from trios to septets.
Creative Arts Orchestra
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.
The Department of Musical Theatre offers a wide range of opportunities for our artists to integrate developing technique from the work in the classroom to the stage. Whether in the curated UProd season or in the varied student driven experiences offered across the university, there are an abundance of ways to engage one’s evolving craft.
University Productions are curated by the Chair in the collaboration with faculty, while also listening to the student voice in our community. Classical and contemporary Broadway musicals, reviews, plays, operettas are chosen as part of the season. Recent shows include The Wild Party, Hair, Sweeney Todd, Passing Strange, Bernarda Alba, Violet, Rent, Sophisticated Ladies and Fiddler on the Roof. The creative teams are made up of faculty allowing the students to engage in developing a new form of collaboration, and with leading artists and creatives from the Broadway industry. Here in the Department of Musical Theatre we continue to investigate the classical musical theatre canon for ways to expand it to ensure we are working to celebrate the diverse lived experiences within our community. Following industry guidelines, we have Intimacy Directors for our shows, Cultural Sensitivity Directors when the subject matter requires it, and curate guests and faculty from the University of Michigan to ensure a holistic experience is had by all.
The fall of 2023 begins our New Works Festival that brings a diverse group of creatives and their developing works to the department for a week. All students are assigned to a new musical and work on building the tools for creating new characters, collaboration skills, communication with a creative team, and ultimately sharing the work in the industry format of a 29 hour reading. These skills are integral in the musical theatre world of today and also build bridges with the creative who are making new works.
The Department of Voice, in collaboration with University Productions, the producing arm of SMTD, presents two main stage opera productions each year that are fully-produced and performed with orchestra. The Fall semester production is performed in the Power Center, and the Winter semester production in the historic Mendelssohn Theatre. Additional opera performance opportunities include studio/chamber opera productions, workshops of new works, and opera scenes programs through Opera Workshop courses.
SMTD orchestras offer numerous concerts each season, performing notable works in the symphonic repertoire as well as abundant newly commissioned works. Visit the Orchestra Performances Youtube playlist to see their performances.
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
Jayce Ogren, 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
Jayce Ogren, 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.
Pit Orchestras (Opera)
Campus Symphony Orchestra & Campus Philharmonia Orchestra
Open to students across campus, the Campus Orchestras provide 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.
U-M Organ Conferences
Students have opportunities to perform at the University of Michigan Organ Conference, a tradition for over 60 years. In addition to performances by international concert artists, alumni and faculty, there are usually two recitals by U-M organ students.
Organ students have opportunities to perform with the University of Michigan orchestras, bands, and choral ensembles, and can gain extensive experience in continuo playing on organ and harpsichord with the Baroque Chamber 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 helped subsidize students’ expenses for international study trips to France, Germany, and the Netherlands.
Students are invited to perform in several recitals each year 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.
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.
Across all disciplines, students perform and study with their peers in studio classes and perform for the public in solo student recitals and studio recitals.
The Dept. of Theatre & Drama, in collaboration with University Productions the producing arm of SMTD, 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 and BTA majors work as stage managers, dramaturgs, shop assistants and technicians for each production, and talented Design & Production 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.
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.