DePaul University School of Music > Academics > Ensembles


Little can match the exhilaration, satisfaction and complete joy of participating with colleagues in a stellar ensemble performance - which is why DePaul offers so many outstanding opportunities to make music in an ensemble setting. Concert venues, both on campus and off, open student performances to appreciative audiences citywide, so the ensemble experience can be shared.

In addition, students will have the opportunity to perform in and attend concerts in Chicago. Just beyond the campus gates, the city's world-renowned musical institutions perform extraordinary programs and our students are always encouraged to participate. As one of the most sophisticated urban music centers in the world, Chicago gives our students an electrifying atmosphere in which to create and share their music.

Expand the ensemble names below to learn more about each.

DePaul Symphony Orchestra

Cliff Colnot, conductor

Contributing to Chicago’s rich and cultural landscape, the DePaul Symphony Orchestra rehearses and performs in the DePaul Concert Hall on the Lincoln Park campus and in Orchestra Hall at Symphony Center, home of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

Conducted by Cliff Colnot, director of orchestral activities and principal conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s contemporary MusicNOW ensemble, the DePaul Symphony Orchestra focuses on a thorough and serious study of the core orchestral repertoire. Students receive regular coaching by members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Lyric Opera orchestra and DePaul’s pre-eminent string and wind faculties.  Professionalism and orchestral fundamentals are prioritized. Rehearsals are three times a week for two hours. Concerts take place four times per year. Each season culminates with a nearly sold-out, spring concert at Orchestra Hall. 

Membership in the Symphony Orchestra is open to all DePaul students, subject to audition.​

DePaul Concert Orchestra

​​Michael Lewanski, conductor


​​The DePaul Concert Orchestra (formerly Chamber Orchestra) is designed to instill, first and foremost, a devotion to relentlessly excellent musicianship in all of its members. The ensemble involves the serious, in-depth study of a wide range of repertoire, standard and non-, from the 18th to the 21st Century. All students are expected to develop and maintain high-level musical and professional standards. Fundamentals skills of orchestral playing, transferable to any large ensemble setting, are also taught and emphasized.


​​Established in 2001 as a small string ensemble, it has expanded to include woodwinds, brass and percussion. It presents five concerts a year.


​​Membership in the Concert Orchestra is open to all DePaul students, subject to audition.​​

DePaul Wind Ensemble

​​Cliff Colnot and Michael Lewanski, conductors​​​​

The DePaul Wind Ensemble consists of thirty student musicians who perform repertoire of the highest quality by outstanding composers. Instrumentation is flexible and, depending upon the needs of a piece, may vary from eight to twenty musicians. The Wind Ensemble's repertoire has been selected to showcase a wide range of works - from 18th century octets to contemporary pieces. Professionalism and the development of instrumental skills are always emphasized, as these crucial elements of musicianship are necessary for students to enter the world of professional performance.​​​​

Membership in DePaul Wind Ensemble is open to all DePaul students, subject to audition.​​​

DePaul Wind Symphony

Erica Neidlinger, conductor

Conducted by Erica Neidlinger, DePaul Wind Symphony consists of 55-60 outstanding wind players who perform a repertoire chosen from a variety of historical periods and for ensembles of various sizes. While this group occasionally presents pieces composed for smaller groups, much of its time is spent in the study and performance of works from the standard symphonic band repertoire. As with every ensemble group at DePaul, professionalism in performance quality and attitude is always emphasized.

Membership in DePaul Wind Symphony is open to all DePaul students, subject to audition.​​​

Ensemble 20+

Michael Lewanski, conductor

Ensemble 20+ focuses on living composers' music and 20th century masterpieces. Comprised of 8-25 string, woodwind, brass, keyboard, and percussion players, the group rehearses, performs, and studies works from Stravinsky up to the present day. Works by student composers are also played and given workshops.

Not just an average college contemporary music group, Ensemble 20+ seeks to teach a set of professional skills particularly addressing new music, as well as an understanding of and engagement with a wide range of 20th and 21st century compositional styles. It fosters a sense of mutual respect among performers, composers, and audience members and contributes to building a positive and creatively vital musical community.

Membership in Ensemble 20+ is open to all DePaul students, subject to audition.​​​

DePaul Chamber Choir

Eric Esparza, conductor
Michael McElvain, pianist​​

DePaul Chamber Choir (formerly University Singers), DePaul’s most select choral ensemble, is a 45-voice ensemble, dedicated to the rehearsal and performance of challenging choral literature of all historical periods in a variety of languages. Conducted by Eric Esparza, the group meets three times a week and performs frequently both on and off campus. Chamber Choir has been invited to perform at choral conventions, most recently the American Choral Directors Association Central Division Convention. Recent notable performances have included the Dvorak Te Deum, Bach Cantata #187, and Werner Jaegerhuber’s Messe folklorique haitienne. 

Membership in Chamber Choir is open to all DePaul students, subject to audition.​

Concert Choir

Eric Esparza, conductor
Michael McElvain, pianist

DePaul Concert Choir is a 70-voice group dedicated to developing the choral artistry of a wide variety of student singers with diverse and engaging repertoire. Concert Choir performs a wide variety of musical styles from the classics to spirituals and folk and world music. Performances are once or twice a quarter and often include combined performances with other choirs or the orchestra. Recent performances have included Orff’s Carmina Burana with DePaul Percussion Ensemble, and Mendelssohn’s Elijah with the Grande Prairie Singers and Orchestra.

Membership in Concert Choir is open to all DePaul students, subject to audition.​​​

DePaul Opera Theatre

Harry Silverstein, director

Always a venue for exceptional talent, DePaul Opera Theatre produces three full-length operas each year. Repertoire has included Carmen, La Bohème, The Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni, Candide and the U.S. premiere of an opera by Philip Glass. In years past, musical theater productions have been produced, directed, conducted, and performed annually by students with faculty supervision. Productions have included Into the Woods, The Fantasticks, Sweeney Todd, and Little Women.

Graduates of DePaul Opera Theatre are currently performing with such opera companies as the Metropolitan, Chicago Lyric, Berlin, Vienna, Zurich, Houston, Dallas, and Santa Fe. The opera program is led by Harry Silverstein, who has directed at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco, New York City, and English National Operas and for companies in Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, and The Netherlands.

​​Membership in DePaul Opera Theatre is open to all DePaul students, subject to audition.​

DePaul Jazz Workshop

Dana Hall, Director

The DePaul Jazz Workshop serves as the laboratory ensemble of the three large jazz ensembles at DePaul. Using the legendary Jazz Workshops of Charles Mingus as a model, the DePaul Jazz Workshop is by design both dynamic and multi-purpose. Ranging in size from as few as ten to as many as seventeen members, the ensemble provides students with opportunities to further develop their understanding of medium and large ensemble performance practices, to improve improvisational knowledge and skills and to sharpen rhythmic flexibility and interpretative skills, section and ensemble phrasing techniques, and dynamic sensitivity.

The ensemble performs several times throughout the academic year both on and off campus, and occasionally with guest artists in specially conceived concert programs.

Jazz Workshop generally enlists a qualified graduate jazz studies teaching assistant, giving the Workshop an additional set of experienced eyes and ears during every rehearsal and affording this assistant director with an opportunity to develop his or her skills selecting, rehearsing, and conducting material appropriate for the educational mission of the ensemble.

Membership in the DePaul Jazz Workshop is open to all DePaul students, with placements made based on audition results and the needs of the ensemble.​​​

DePaul Jazz Ensemble

Bob Lark, director​​

The Jazz Ensemble, directed by Bob Lark, performs several times throughout the academic year both on and off campus and has appeared at the Midwest Clinic, the International Association for Jazz Education Conference, the Duke Ellington International Conference, the National Association of Music Merchants Conference, the Jazz Party At Sea aboard the S.S. Norwegian Sun, twice aboard the Queen Elizabeth II ocean liner for their Annual Floating Jazz Festival, and a concert tour of Italy.

Membership in the DePaul Jazz Ensemble is open to all DePaul students, subject to audition.​​​

DePaul Jazz Orchestra

Thomas Matta, Director

The Jazz Orchestra is one of three large jazz ensembles at DePaul University, performing several times throughout the academic year both on and off campus.

The ensemble focuses on the traditional and contemporary repertoire for the standard big band instrumentation of 5 reeds, 4 trumpets, 4 trombones, and rhythm section. A significant emphasis is placed on rehearsing and performing student arrangements and compositions.

Jazz Orchestra students will critically examine the diverse repertoire that is rehearsed and performed; apply and execute appropriate performance styles and instrumental techniques; and develop their skills as a soloist as well as an ensemble/section musician.

Membership in the DePaul Jazz Orchestra is open to all DePaul students, subject to audition.​​​

DePaul Jazz Combos

​​Performance in jazz chamber ensembles (jazz combos) makes up a significant and required role in the education and curriculum of Jazz Studies students at DePaul. Jazz combos provide students with opportunities to develop individual and personal approaches to and an understanding of common performance practices of small jazz ensembles.​​

Combos vary in size and instrumentation and are generally formed at the beginning of the academic year, with rosters and personnel remaining intact throughout the year. Jazz combos rehearse and are coached weekly by a jazz faculty member, culminating in an audio-recorded concert performance at each quarter’s end. Additionally, each combo will generally participate annually in at least one studio recording session. Additional performance opportunities, both on and off campus, are a regular part of the program’s activities.​​

Membership in the Jazz Chamber Music (Jazz Combo) program is open to all DePaul Jazz Studies majors and to School of Music students, subject to audition results and permission of the Coordinator of Jazz Chamber Music.​​​

Chamber Music

Chamber Music at DePaul is a significant part of every student’s education and is a requirement for performance majors. The Chamber Music program is varied and extensive. During any given quarter there might be 20 or more small ensembles rehearsing and being coached by faculty. Each group gives a performance at the end of each quarter. Various chamber groups include small wind, strings, mixed, woodwind and brass groups in addition to the possibility of a flute choir, clarinet choir, horn ensemble or trombone ensemble. Baroque Ensemble and Percussion Ensemble are just two of the many chamber groups that are available every quarter.

African Music Ensemble 
Avo Randruut, Director

Have you ever wanted to learn more about music from African cultures? Do you like exploring music that relates to jazz, blues, samba, son, and other music from the African diaspora?  Do you like learning to play new instruments? In African Ensemble, students learn musical techniques and repertory using oral tradition (by ear), and activities may include instrumental techniques, singing, and dancing. The ensemble also offers opportunities to collaborate and learn from master musicians in concerts, master classes, and workshops. 

This course is a music elective and can be repeated for credit. It does not replace chamber music requirements for performance majors or fulfill performance award requirements. However, it does fulfill the small ensemble requirements for BA, PAM, SRT, and music education undergraduate majors after students have fulfilled large ensemble requirements.
Membership in African Ensemble is open to all DePaul students. No prior experience with African music or percussion is necessary. If you have questions about African Ensemble, please contact Dr. Kate Brucher, Coordinator of World Music Activities. 

Baroque Ensemble
Jason Moy, Brandi Berry, directors

The DePaul Baroque Ensemble is dedicated to the performance of instrumental and vocal chamber music of the 16th through mid-18th centuries. Student ensembles are coached on performance practice and other techniques that will enable them to play this music in a historically informed manner, with special emphasis given to musical rhetoric and style, ornamentation and improvisation. Although students play on modern instruments, ensembles are augmented by DePaul’s historical instrument collection of three harpsichords, a chamber organ, and a set of Baroque bows, all of which are available for students to use in performing repertoire ranging from instrumental/vocal trios and quartets to music for chamber orchestra.

Percussion Ensemble
Michael Kozakis, director

The Percussion Ensemble consists of 15-18 percussion majors who perform a large variety of music expressly written for percussion. The ensemble is dedicated to performing a balance of historically important works and the latest contemporary works. The ensemble performs a fall, winter, and spring concert as well as performances at student recitals and clinics, including the 2003 Yamaha Orchestral Percussion Seminar. Performances include a mix of works written for the small chamber group to the large percussion orchestra.  The ensemble has had the opportunity to perform with a number of guests artists including Brett Dietz, Eric Millstein and Michael Burritt.​​​ Check out DePaul Percussion Ensemble on YouTube.​​​