Ensembles and Auditions

Joining An Ensemble

The Department of Music hosts several performing ensembles and combos. Participation is not limited to Music students, but auditions may be required. Some ensembles are also open to community members.

Each ensemble has its own audition requirements, rehearsal, and performance schedules, as well as minimum levels of proficiency. Minimum proficiency levels can be found here. Check the links below for each ensemble’s other requirements. To determine eligibility for academic credit, please see the Stanford Bulletin.

Ensemble auditions take place in Fall quarter, generally beginning during the end of NSO week, and continuing through the first week of classes. Auditions for most ensembles are now closed. If you wish to join an ensemble at other times of the year, contact the ensemble director for information.

Departmental ensembles include:

Choral Studies:

Instrumental Ensembles:

Jazz Ensembles:

Other Groups in the Department of Music

Faculty Ensembles

Groups not in the Department of Music

Choral Studies

Chamber Chorale (Music 165, 1 unit)

A select choir of 24 voices dedicated to the performance of virtuosic literature for the small choral ensemble. Its members maintain a rigorous schedule of performing, touring, and recording. Membership in the Chamber Chorale is set at the beginning of the academic year.

Early Music Singers (Music 159, 1 unit)

The Stanford Early Music Singers specialize in the performance of choral literature from the Medieval and Renaissance eras. EMS typically numbers 25–30 members, with smaller groups occasionally drawn from the ensemble. EMS’s repertoire for the year includes a broad range of literature from England and the Continent presented in the glorious acoustic of Memorial Church.

Memorial Church Choir (Music 163, 1 unit)

The Memorial Church Choir provides choral music for Sunday morning University Public Worship at Stanford Memorial Church. This weekly service provides the opportunity to explore and perform a wide range of sacred choral music. Special events will include participation in the Stanford Invitational Choral Festival and the annual Christmas Service of Lessons & Carols.

Symphonic Chorus (Music 162, 1 unit)

With 180 members, Stanford’s Symphonic Chorus is the largest choral ensemble on campus and specializes in the performance of choral masterworks with orchestra.

University Singers (Music 167, 1 unit)

A select concert choir of 50 members, the University Singers perform a broad range of Western classical music, both a cappella and accompanied. Membership in University Singers is set at the beginning of the academic year.


Instrumental Ensembles

Stanford Symphony Orchestra (Music 160)

The Stanford Symphony Orchestra is a full-sized symphony orchestra open by audition to all members of the Stanford community, as well as community members in Palo Alto and surrounding cities.

Stanford Philharmonia Orchestra (Music 160A)

The Stanford Philharmonia Orchestra is a select chamber orchestra of 35 performers. The orchestra offers accomplished musicians an opportunity to perform a rich repertoire of traditional and contemporary works for small orchestra setting. It is dedicated to providing high-quality live performances on the Stanford campus and throughout the Bay Area. The orchestra also provides opportunities for its musicians to collaborate with renowned artists visiting and performing at Stanford. The Stanford Philharmonia presents three concerts each year, one per academic quarter.

Stanford New Ensemble (Music 160B)

The Stanford New Ensemble (SNE) offers undergraduate and graduate students opportunities to perform the most significant music of our time, from landmark compositions of the 20th century to the most recent works of this new century, as well as new works by Stanford faculty and student composers. The Ensemble also fosters collaborations between student musicians and renowned visiting composers and artists at Stanford.

Summer Stanford Symphony Orchestra

The Summer Stanford Symphony Orchestra is open to all members of the Stanford community. Although Stanford students are given priority, the Summer Orchestra also welcomes musicians from the local and non-Stanford community.

Stanford Wind Ensemble

The Stanford Wind Ensemble is made up of 45-50 wind and percussion players and gives three concerts in Bing Concert Hall each year. A featured student soloist for each concert is chosen by audition. The Ensemble performs all types of music for winds, from large chamber works to the full scope of a large concert group. The literature is taken from the earliest periods of music to the most modern and contemporary. While some transcriptions of classics are used, most of the literature comes from composers who have written original music for the medium, such as Bernstein, Hindemith, Stravinsky, and others.

Chamber Music Groups

The Department of Music holds auditions each fall for students interested in performing chamber music. Groups are formed with students of similar interest and abilities, and may be coached by a faculty member. Repertory depends on the playing level of the group. The Chamber Music program enables students’ participation at intermediate and higher levels for small (3- to 8-member) chamber groups, meeting once a week with their coach. Chamber music groups should have a minimum of three students; all students in chamber ensembles should register for credit in Music 171, but a simple majority of each ensemble must be registered in Music 171. Note: Pianists must audition separatelyem> for private lessons and chamber music starting in 2013-2014.

Stanford Baroque Soloists

Elite string group focusing on concerti by Corelli, Vivaldi, and other Italians; Bach, Handel, and other Germans; and theater music by Purcell and Lully. Each member is expected to solo as well as play backup. Performances each quarter are played standing and are student-led without conductor. Coaching will emphasize leadership and ensemble techniques, intonation and blend, particulars of 18th-century notation, and performance practice. Modern instruments, modern pitch, baroque bows as available. Limited to six violins, three violas, three cellos, bass. Admission is by audition.

Stanford Percussion Ensemble

The Stanford Percussion Ensemble is open to any interested Stanford student who has a background in percussion performance, or an intermediate to advanced level of percussion technique. The ensemble is dedicated to giving the highest quality performances of both the standard and contemporary percussion ensemble repertoire.


Jazz Ensembles

Stanford Jazz Orchestra

The Stanford Jazz Orchestra is part of the Stanford Jazz Program, which is open to the general student population. Players enjoy a relaxed and fun — yet quasi-professional — environment, dedicated to performing quality contemporary literature at the highest possible level. Concerts always include world class guest artists. Repertoire emphasis is on new and original efforts rather than historical and traditional works.

Jazz Combos

Stanford Afro-Latin Jazz Ensemble

The Stanford Afro-Latin Jazz Ensemble is dedicated to the performance, interpretation, and study of Afro-Latin music and its fusion with North American jazz. The repertoire is suitable for both concert and dance-format performances and covers the full spectrum of the music of the Americas. The group presents a quarterly concert, and several guest artists and lecturers work with the band throughout the year. The ensemble is open to students and members of the Stanford community at large.


Other Groups in the Department of Music

Stanford Brass Ensemble

Performance of works for full brass choir and for smaller ensembles of brass instruments.

Stanford Flute Ensemble

Open to serious flute students interested in performing both traditional and contemporary music for flute choir and multiple flutes.

[sic] – The Stanfjord [sic] Improvisation Collective (Music 156)

Small ensemble devoted to learning trans-idiomatic improvisation techniques and composing indeterminate pieces in a workshop setting, with one major concert each winter. Prerequisite: access to an instrument and successful small group audition during the prior quarter. Improvisational experience and conventional instrumental virtuosity are not required.

Stanford Laptop Orchestra (SLOrk)

The Stanford Laptop Orchestra (SLOrk) is a large-scale, computer-mediated ensemble (more than 20 laptops, human performers, controllers, and custom multi-channel speaker arrays). Offstage, SLOrk serves as a one-of-a-kind learning environment that explores music, computer science, and live performance in a naturally interdisciplinary way.

Stanford Mobile Phone Orchestra (MoPhO)

The Stanford Mobile Phone Orchestra (MoPhO) is a first-of-its-kind ensemble that explores social music-making using mobile devices (e.g., iPhones and iPads). Far beyond ring-tones, MoPhO’s interactive social-musical works and research take advantage of the unique technological capabilities of today’s hardware and software, transforming multi-touch screens, built-in accelerometers, gyroscopes, microphones, cameras, GPS, data networks, and computation into powerful, mobile, and personal musical instruments and experiences.

Stanford Taiko

Stanford Taiko stands out in the Japanese-American drumming community as one of the leading collegiate Taiko ensembles in the country. The 15 to 20-member ensemble presents a dynamic blend of the ancient Taiko, or Japanese drum, with contemporary musical influences. In addition to on-campus and community performances, Stanford Taiko tours both nationally and internationally ((2000: Japan; 2003: Hawai‘i; 2004: Thailand; 2005: Los Angeles; 2006: Thailand and Japan; 2007: Seattle; 2008: China; 2009: Thailand; 2011: Maui; 2012: U.K.; 2013: Thailand), and founded the Intercollegiate Taiko Invitational, the annual gathering of the collegiate taiko community, in 1995. Stanford Taiko studies regularly with leading taiko performers including Kenny Endo, San Jose Taiko, and the On Ensemble, and has studied in Japan with taiko masters Eitetsu Hayashi and Kiyonari Tosha.

Stanford Chinese Music Ensemble

The Stanford Chinese Music Ensemble (SCME) is Stanford’s only official student group committed to playing a variety of traditional Chinese instruments and music. Founded in October 2011, the ensemble has already performed at various cultural and musical events, including the Stanford Chinese New Year Gala and the Pan-Asian Music Festival hosted by Stanford University. Conducted by Professor Jindong Cai, SCME strives to promote cultural exchange and awareness about Chinese culture and to expand artistic creativity at Stanford by introducing students and faculty to a unique style of music. Anyone with an interest in learning and playing Chinese instruments and music is welcome to join the ensemble.


Faculty Ensembles

St. Lawrence String Quartet

The internationally acclaimed and award-winning St. Lawrence String Quartet is the ensemble-in-residence at Stanford University. The SLSQ, consisting of violinists Geoff Nuttall and Mark Fewer, violist Lesley Robertson, and cellist Christopher Costanza, performs regularly on campus, directs the department’s chamber music and string program as well as the annual summer Chamber Music Seminar, and hosts up-and-coming chamber groups for their Emerging String Quartet Program. For more information on the SLSQ's activities on campus, visit the SLSQ at Stanford website here.

Stanford Woodwind Quintet

The Stanford Woodwind Quintet is a professional ensemble composed of Stanford teaching faculty. Recognized for solo work and chamber music collaboration, the Quintet excels in music from the classics through the 20th century. Its members include Alexandra Hawley, flute; James Matheson, oboe; Mark Brandenberg, clarinet; Larry Ragent, horn; and Rufus Olivier, bassoon.


Groups not in the Department of Music

A Cappella Groups

A Cappella Groups are not affiliated with the Department of Music. They hold their own auditions. For more information, visit the websites below or look in the Stanford Directory under “Arts & Entertainment.”

Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band

Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band (LSJUMB) is based in the Athletics Program. Traditional marching skills are not encouraged. Auditions are held at the beginning of the school year. Find out more here.