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. Student ensembles perform in the state-of-the-art Holtschneider Performance Center and in venues off campus, opening student performances to appreciative audiences citywide.

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.

Contributing to Chicago’s rich and cultural landscape, the DePaul Symphony Orchestra rehearses and performs in the Mary Patricia Gannon Concert Hall in the Holtschneider Performance Center on the Lincoln Park campus and in Orchestra Hall at Symphony Center, home of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. 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 and have included spring performances downtown at Orchestra Hall. 

Faculty member Michael Lewanski and a handful of guest conductors will lead the DePaul Symphony Orchestra for the 2022-2023 academic year. 

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

Michael Lewanski, Conductor

The DePaul Concert Orchestra studies and performs a diverse range of works—standard repertoire to new music, from the 18th to the 21st centuries. The orchestra's concerts feature adventurous programming designed to provide thought-provoking aesthetic experiences that recontextualize well-known pieces, present unfamiliar ones and connect musicians and audiences more deeply to the music of their past and present. The Concert Orchestra collaborates annually with faculty soloists, the DePaul Symphonic Choir and members of the DePaul Symphony Orchestra; it also presents a joint concert with Ensemble 20+.

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

Erica Neidlinger, Conductor

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.

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.

Michael Lewanski, Conductor

DePaul's Ensemble 20+ plays living composers' music and 20th century works. Comprised mostly of DePaul School of Music performance students, the group rehearses, performs and studies a range of works from the early 20th century up to the present day. Ensemble 20+ collaborates with composers and performers of varying backgrounds: DePaul faculty and students, Chicago composers and national and international artists. Ensemble 20+ seeks to engage with the ever-widening and changing set of contemporary compositional styles and musical practices. It fosters a sense of collaboration and mutual respect among performers, composers and audience members; it contributes to a positive and creatively vital musical community. 

Membership in Ensemble 20+ is open to all DePaul students; a successful audition is required.

Eric Esparza, Conductor

The DePaul Choirs are dedicated to developing the choral artistry of a wide array of student singers (music majors and non-music majors) with diverse and engaging repertoire. The choirs perform a wide variety of musical styles including Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Romantic, 20th-Century, 21st-Century, spirituals, jazz, and music from an array of world cultures. Performances are once or twice a quarter and often include collaborations with guest artists, culture bearers, and instrumental colleagues. Recent performances of masterworks have included Bach’s Hunting Cantata, Orff’s Carmina Burana, Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms, Rossini’s Stabat Mater, DuBois’s Seven Last Words of Christ, Verdi’s Four Sacred Songs, and the Fauré Requiem. Repertoire for smaller works have featured compositions by Ysaye Barnwell, Chen Yi, Lonnie Norwood, Florence Price, Manuel M. Ponce, Henry Purcell, and Marc-Antoine Charpentier. 

The DePaul Choirs have given honor choir performances at the Illinois Music Educators Convention and at state and regional conferences of the American Choral Directors Association. Students have gone on collaborative concert tours of Hawaii and the San Francisco Bay area, and give performances in the greater Chicago area on an annual basis

Membership in the DePaul choirs is open to all DePaul students, subject to audition.

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.  The DePaul Opera Theatre performs in the new Sasha and Eugene Jarvis Opera Hall, one of the few wholly redesigned and dedicated vocal rehearsal and performance space for recitals, concerts and opera productions on a college campus. 

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.

Scott Burns, 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.

THe 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.

Thomas Matta, Director

The DePaul Jazz Ensemble 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.

Sharel Cassity, Director

The Jazz Orchestra is one of the 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.

Kathryn Sherman, Director

The DePaul Vocal Jazz Ensemble is the newest addition to the Jazz program. The ensemble consists of ten to twelve vocalists and a rhythm section comprised of piano, bass and drums. Students rehearse and perform repertoire culled from classic vocal jazz ensembles and arrangers (Mattson, Puerling, Meader, Lambert, Hendricks and Ross, The New York Voices, Manhattan Transfer, The Swingle Singers, Singers Unlimited, Take Six etc.), as well as newly commissioned works from today’s leading composers and arrangers and new student works.

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

Thomas Matta, Coordinator of Jazz Combo program

Performance in 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 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 Combo program. 

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.

Baroque Ensemble

Jason Moy, director

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

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.