Ensembles and Programs Overview


Performance Program Goals, Ensembles, and Activities:

The Department of Music’s extensive co-curricular Performance Program provides University of Chicago students from all backgrounds and academic concentrations an exceptional environment for artistic inspiration and musical growth.  The Performance Program’s eighteen performance ensembles and programs, each of which is led by an accomplished specialist, are dedicated to specific and meaningful goals: 

  • to provide a wide variety of enriching musical opportunities to UChicago students, both undergraduate and graduate, regardless of academic concentration
  • to develop each student’s individual proficiency and musical understanding to the highest degree possible
  • to foster a strong musical community and a sense of camaraderie within the Department of Music Performance Program
  • to nurture each student’s lifelong commitment to the musical arts, whether as participant, listener, and/or supporter

The Department of Music ensembles and programs collectively cover a wide range of historical periods and cultural perspectives, and actively seek out new repertoire, new trends in performance practice, and distinctive, often inter-disciplinary projects and collaborations. 

Over 750 talented musicians from across the UChicago campus participate in the Department’s Performance Program, which sponsors well over 100 concerts every season.  An array of master classes, workshops, artist-in-residence programs, and private lesson opportunities further enhance the students’ musical experience at the University of Chicago.  Supplemented by the vibrant listening environment on campus and throughout the city of Chicago, the Department of Music Performance Program serves the campus and community with distinction.

Membership in most of the performance ensembles is by competitive audition, held at the beginning of each academic year.  Some of the Special Repertory Ensembles accept interested musicians with no prior training or experience in the particular genre.  Opportunities do exist on campus for beginning or intermediate level instrumental study, but in general the Department of Music Performance Ensembles assume substantive training and experience for instrumentalists, as well as the ability to vocalize and to read music for singers. 

Undergraduate musicians who are accepted into the large performance ensembles – i.e., the University Chorus, Motet Choir, Rockefeller Chapel Choir, or Women’s Ensemble;  the University Symphony Orchestra, University Chamber Orchestra, or University Wind Ensemble;  the Jazz Combo or Jazz X-tet, Early Music Ensemble, Middle East Music Ensemble, or South Asian Music Ensemble – are able to register for their participation in that ensemble on a zero-credit, pass-fail basis.  No tuition dollars are collected, but the students’ participation in the ensemble is reflected on his or her official University of Chicago transcript.

Please read the Performance Program FAQ for more information.