Skip to main content

Music Ensembles

The arts have been part of Western Carolina University's curriculum dating back to its founding.  Jackson County has a rich arts heritage and our founder, Robert Lee Madison, wished to provide a place where students would have a place to explore and develop their artistic abilities. In 1890 the Music and Arts Department was formed and was the first of its kind west of Asheville.  The first college band was established in 1935 with approximately 50 members and no experience necessary. The university continued to demonstrate its commitment to the arts through the years and following WWII began offering two concentrations for music education: general and instrumental.

Now, WCU is home to a nationally acclaimed marching band, three concert bands, basketball pep band,  and a multitude of other musical ensembles. Each ensemble contributes to the vibrant musical community of western North Carolina with every performance on and off campus.


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 Dr. Jack Eaddy. 

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.

Symphonic Band

Meeting in the fall and spring semesters, this group of 60-80 musicians is open to all students through an audition.

Concert Band

Meeting in the spring semester, this group of 60-80 musicians is open to all students without audition.

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.

Percussion Ensemble

Led by Dr. Adam Groh, this group of percussion majors performs challenging works for various combinations of percussion instruments.

Gamelan Ensemble

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

Music Technology Ensemble

Tech Ensemble (also known as Velocitties) is a hybrid performance group that creates commercial music with technology from the past and present. You can learn more about Velocitties by checking out their website.

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.

Concert Choir (MUS 372)

This large auditioned ensemble is known for its diversity of advanced repertoire including early and world music as well as historical and contemporary styles. Masterwork performances have recently included Bach's Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott (BWV 80) and Poulenc's Gloria.  Auditions take place during the first week of classes each semester, and no prepared materials are necessary. The 10-minute audition includes vocalizing, sight-reading, and aural memory. Concert Choir hosts a choral festival in fall semesters and travels on a 2-day state tour in spring semesters. Directed by Dr. Allison Thorp.

University Chorus

Open to all students without audition, this large ensemble performs lighter SATB choral works in two concerts a semester. The ensemble meets MW 2:30-3:45pm and combines students from a variety of backgrounds who enjoy singing. Directed by Dr. Allison Thorp.

Chamber Singers (MUS 375-70)

An elite, auditioned group of 8 singers, this small vocal ensemble focuses on developing vocal leadership, musical independence, and entrepreneurship skills through preparation and performance of varied repertoire.  Fall semesters only. Directed by Dr. Allison Thorp.

Catamount Singers

Offered in the spring semester, the Catamount Singers is a small commercial voice ensemble that represents the pride, spirit, and soul of the WCU community.

The group is comprised of confident and well-rounded singing artists who may also be song writers, instrumentalists, and future educators.  Ensemble members are given a space for artistic growth to accommodate an ever-changing world. In doing so, each singer will represent themselves as individual artists with unique talents which they are expected to share for the betterment of the whole. We are individuals, we are community, and we stand for excellence.

Inspirational Gospel Choir

The Inspirational Gospel Choir promotes African-American culture through song and is a longstanding tradition at WCU!  One of our two student-led ensembles on campus, the IGC is extra-curricular and not available for credit.  For more information, contact the Office of Student Development at 828-227-7234.

PawCapella Club

A student-led ensemble, PawCapella brings together students who like to explore popular repertoire written in the a capella genre. This is extra-curricular and not available for credit.  For more information, contact Dr. Allison Thorp.

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.

Participating in Musical Ensembles

All students participating in a musical ensemble must be registered for the course.   To take an ensemble without receiving credit, a student must apply to have their status in the course changed to "audit" before the end of the first week of courses.  Contact the Registrar's Office to request "audit" status.

Music Ensembles Credit Policy

Performing Ensembles (MUS 371, 372, 373, 374, 375)

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.  Some exceptions are made for certain students in the Commercial Music and Audio Production program; see your advisor or the program coordinator for details.

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).

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.

Office of Web Services