Special Repertory Ensembles


Each of the Special Repertory Ensembles is conducted by an expert in the field. All of the ensemble directors are active and acclaimed performers in the Chicago area, and many have performing careers that stretch throughout the United States and around the world. Each of the Special Repertory Ensembles holds its own set of auditions and/or invitational open houses at the beginning of the academic year. In some cases, membership is open to musicians with no prior experience in the genre. See individual ensemble listings for more information.

The ensembles include: Early Music Ensemble, Jazz X-tet and Jazz Combo, Middle East Music Ensemble, New Music Ensemble, and South Asian Music Ensemble.

Early Music Ensemble  •  David Douglass and Ellen Hargis of the Newberry Consort, Directors

Student Coordinator: Lester Hu

The Early Music Ensemble is an historically-oriented performance and study group led by members of the Newberry Consort. Participation in the group is open to anyone in the University community with music-reading experience;  private lessons and coaching in voice and early instruments are likewise available through the Newberry Consort. Repertoire is drawn from 15th- to 17th-century sources, with special emphasis given to historically-informed performance practices such as reading from original notation, improvisation, and ornamentation. The Early Music Ensemble also provides a forum for undergraduate majors and graduate students in Music who wish to explore repertories particular to their scholarly research. Collaborations with professional performers take place through the year, culminating in the Early Music Ensemble’s year-end spring concert.

In lieu of auditions, the Early Music Ensemble will host an open house on Wednesday, October 1 at 5:00 pm in Classics 110. All interested musicians and novices are invited to attend.

2015-2016 Concert Date:

  • Tuesday, May 10 at 7:30 pm, Bond Chapel


  • Tuesdays 5:15-6:45 pm, Logan Center, Rooms 502 and 703
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Jazz X-tet and Jazz Combo  •  Mwata Bowden, Director

Lauded for its boldness in showcasing cutting-edge compositions, the Jazz X-tet is a versatile collection of 12 to 15 musicians, frequently joined in performance by noted Chicago-area professionals. The X-tet’s three-concert season offers a variety of pieces, from jazz standards to hip-hop, often in arrangements that are custom-designed for the ensemble by its own members. In rehearsal and performance the X-tet focuses on developing the improvisational skills of its musicians, as well as on deepening their understanding of the wide-ranging jazz idiom. The group has issued two CDs, and frequently performs for University events on campus and elsewhere in the city. In addition to the Jazz X-tet itself, several small jazz combo groups are set up each year to provide training and experience to interested musicians, and to perform informally on campus.

The Jazz X-tet holds auditions at the beginning of the autumn quarter.

2015-2016 Concert Dates:

  • Thursday, December 3 at 8:00 pm, Logan Performance Hall
  • Thursday, March 10 at 8:00 pm, Logan Performance Hall
  • Thursday, June 2 at 8:00 pm, Logan Performance Hall


  • Wednesdays, Combo: 5:00-6:30 pm; X-tet: 7:00-9:30 pm, Fulton Hall
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Middle East Music Ensemble  •  Wanees Zarour, Director

The Middle East Music Ensemble explores a variety of classical, neo-classical, and popular musical forms from throughout the Middle East, encompassing compositional and improvisational techniques unique to non-Western musical culture. Members perform on traditional instruments, often in company with noted guest artists, and present multiple concerts both on and off campus. No previous experience in the genre is required, but the ability to read music is necessary.  Membership includes students, faculty, and staff of the University, as well as community members interested in the art and music of the Middle East.

In lieu of auditions, the Middle East Music Ensemble hosts an open house on Thursday, October 2 at 6:00 pm, Logan Penthouse. 

2015-2016 Concert Dates:

  • Saturday, November 21 at 7:00 pm, Logan Performance Hall
  • Saturday, February 27 at 7:00 pm, Logan Performance Hall
  • Saturday, May 21 at 7:00 pm, Logan Performance Hall


  • Thursdays, 6:30-10:00 pm, Logan Penthouse
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New Music Ensemble  •  Barbara Schubert, Artistic Director

The New Music Ensemble (NME) is a group of highly accomplished musicians who are devoted to presenting world premieres of cutting-edge works by Department of music graduate students in composition, as well as recent chamber music by faculty members at UChicago and other area institutions and select classics of the late twentieth and early twenty-first century. The acclaimed Spektral Quartet, newly appointed Ensemble-in-Residence at the University of Chicago, forms the core of the NME. The quartet is joined by members of the performance faculty and area professionals for the New Music Ensemble’s three to four concerts per season, under the leadership of Artistic Director Barbara Schubert. In the past year and a half, the NME has presented over a dozen world premieres and an equal number of U.S. or Chicago premieres, plus works by Drew Baker, Marcos Balter, Matthias Pintscher, Kaija Sariaho, Augusta Read Thomas, and more. The NME’s May 2012 presentation of Andrea Clearfield’s Lung-Ta with artwork by Maureen Drdak and the Group Motion Dance Company of Philadelphia marked the inaugural phase of a series of multi-media, multi-disciplinary performances planned for upcoming seasons.

2015-2016 Concert Dates:

  • Sunday, November 1 at 3:00 pm, location TBA
  • Sunday, February 7 at 8:00 pm, location TBA
  • Sunday, May 1 at 3:00 pm, location TBA


  • By arrangement
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South Asian Music Ensemble  •  Minu Pasupathi, Director

Faculty Coordinator: Kaley Reid Mason

The South Asian Music Ensemble explores a variety of classical, vernacular, and popular song repertories from the Indian Subcontinent, with membership open to beginners as well as to more experienced performers with a background in South Asian music. The ensemble will focus on teaching vocal techniques, stylistic features, compositional forms, improvisational practices, and performance conventions specific to India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and South Asian diasporas. In addition to participating in weekly ensemble rehearsals, members will have the option of attending voice coaching sessions and/or engaging the instructor for private lessons. Membership is open to students, faculty, and staff of the University, as well as community members interested in South Asian music.

The South Asian Music Ensemble hosts an open house in lieu of auditions on Monday, October 6 at 4:30 pm in Logan Center, Room 703.

2015-2016 Concert Date:

  • Saturday, May 7 at 7:30 pm, Logan Penthouse


  • Beginning Session: Mondays, 3:30-4:30 pm, Logan Center, Room 703
  • Intermediate Session: Mondays, 4:30-5:30 pm, Logan Center, Room 703
  • Advanced Session: Mondays, 5:30-6:30 pm, Logan Center, Room 703
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