Music Ensembles

Western Carolina offers a wide variety of performance ensembles for music students, including several competitive audition groups that perform both on campus and on tour.

Wind Ensemble
Directed by Dr. Margaret Underwood, this auditioned ensemble of 40-50 musicians performs a challenging repertory that includes premieres of commissioned works. This group meets every semester and tours in the spring of odd-numbered years.

Marching Band
Over 400 strong, the Pride of the Mountains is one of the largest, most innovative marching bands in the country. It hosts the annual Tournament of Champions for high school bands every fall. Directed by David Starnes and Matt Henley and Jon Henson.

Symphonic Band
Meeting in the spring semester, this group of 60-80 musicians is open to all students without audition. Directed by David Starnes.

Jazz Band
Directed by jazz pianist Pavel Wlosok, this auditioned group performs jazz standards and new works for jazz band. Tours in the spring of even-numbered years.

Artist-in-Residence Orchestra
With a professional string section from the Asheville Symphony Orchestra, this auditioned ensemble performs orchestral masterworks with wind, brass and percussion students.

Civic Orchestra
A college and community chamber orchestra, the Civic Orchestra rehearses on Thursday evenings and performs once a semester. The spring concert features winners of the Civic Orchestra Solo Competition, sponsored by the Jackson County Arts Council. This ensemble is led by Dr. Damon Sink.

Percussion Ensemble
Led by Dr. Mario Gaetano, this group of percussion majors performs challenging works for various combinations of percussion instruments.

Studio Ensembles
Most of the wind and brass studios offer small ensembles of like instruments that are conducted or coached by the studio teacher. Please contact studio faculty for details.

Gamelan Ensemble
Tuned percussion instruments (gongs, chimes, etc.) from Indonesia. Directed by Dr. Will Peebles. No audition.

Concert Choir
This auditioned group performs works from the Renaissance to the 21st century, including major choral works such as Poulenc's "Gloria" and Handel's "Messiah." Tours every other fall. Directed by Dr. Allison Thorp.

University Chorus
Open to all students without audition, this group performs lighter choral works, but also joins the Concert Choir for major works. Directed by Dr. Allison Thorp.

Early Music Ensemble
An auditioned group of 16 singers, this group performs Renaissance music, and tours with the Concert Choir. Directed by Dr. Allison Thorp.

Catamount Singers
An auditioned group of 8-10 singers performing jazz and popular styles with a small instrumental combo. Directed by Dr. Bruce Frazier.

Opera Workshop
Designed for practical experience for the solo singer, the emphasis is on physical movement, ensemble work, character development and acting in opera. Students study and perform excerpted scenes in English from opera and operetta, and participate in touring productions. Directed by Dr. Mary Kay Bauer.

Inspirational Choir
The Inspirational Choir promotes African-American culture through song. Each year, 40 to 50 students of all majors perform in churches and schools throughout the Southeast. Inspirational Choir is not available for college credit. For more information, contact the Office of Student Development at 828-227-7234.

Western Carolina Community Chorus
The Western Carolina Community Chorus is composed of singers from the westernmost counties of the state. Membership is open to singers with past experience in community, school and church choirs.  No audition is required but regular attendance at rehearsals is essential. Directed by Dr. Robert Holquist.

Taking Ensembles for Credit

All students participating in musical ensembles must be registered for the course. Most ensembles are available for one semester hour of credit. To receive credit toward degree requirements for a particular ensemble, music majors and minors must enroll for 1 semester hour of credit in the appropriate course (MUS 371, 372, 373, 374, 375, or 376).

To take the ensemble without receiving credit, students should sign up for ensembles offered as MUS 071 through 076. Non majors participating in marching band may elect to take the ensemble for two semester hours of credit.

Music Ensembles Credit Policy

Performing Ensembles (MUS 371, 372, 373, 374, 375) are laboratory courses for which one credit is received for a minimum of two 50-minute periods of rehearsal per week. Some ensembles have greater time requirements, so be sure to check the actual number of hours for a particular ensemble on the Schedule of Classes and the course syllabus. You should expect the possibility of an additional dress rehearsal of the full ensemble prior to a concert; these are generally scheduled outside of regular class time. Sectional rehearsals outside of regularly scheduled class time may be arranged, but attendance shall not be required. Some ensembles tour and perform off-campus as well, so be sure to read the syllabus carefully and make note of all time commitments in your personal calendar. Notify your instructors immediately if you discover a time conflict.

Large Versus Small Ensembles. MUS 371, 372, and 373 are categorized as large ensembles for the purposes of ensemble requirements related to the various music degree programs. MUS 374 and MUS 375 are considered to be small ensembles; only certain music degree programs require small ensembles.

Large Ensemble Requirement for Music Degrees. Every music major must take six semesters (not merely six credits) of large ensembles (MUS 371, 372, or 373) related to their performing area. Vocalists must take MUS 371 or 372; instrumentalists must take MUS 373. Please check the Undergraduate Handbook to find further stipulations regarding the requirements for a specific degree.

Two Credit-Option for Marching Band (MUS 373). Because of the significantly greater time commitments for the Marching Band, students have the option to enroll for the course for two credits rather than one. This option is made available primarily for non-music majors, but music majors may also enroll for two credits. However, taking Marching Band for two credits does not count double for the music major's large ensemble requirement (see below).

Zero-Credit Option (MUS 071, 072, 073, 074, 075). Ensembles are also available, upon request of the student, for zero credit. There is no other difference between these courses and for-credit sections in terms of expectations for performance, attendance, or assignment of grades. Zero-credit courses do not satisfy any music degree requirements or elective requirements for any other degree.

Transfer of Ensemble Credits. Music majors who transfer from another school may transfer any number of semesters of large ensembles from the previous school to meet the large ensemble requirement, up to the number of semesters of lessons that are accepted in transfer (based upon the student's audition). For example, a student who is placed into the second semester of MUS 207 (sophomore-level lessons) may satisfy up to three semesters of large ensemble requirement with transferred large ensembles. However, a student who is placed into the first semester of freshman-level lessons (MUS 107) will not be given any credit toward the large ensemble requirement from the previous school. Any transferred large ensemble courses not used to meet the large ensemble requirement may be used to satisfy general elective requirements.

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