Department of Music

Performing Ensembles

The Department of Music offers a large number of ensemble performance opportunities for interested students of all disciplines. 

College Choir


The Hillsdale College Choir is a mixed choral ensemble of more than a hundred voices with membership open to all Hillsdale College Students. The choir performs and records a broad range of repertoire from the different historical periods of western civilization. From single a cappella settings of traditional works to major oratorios with orchestra, students get a chance to explore a wide range of musical styles while learning to develop their voice and musical skills.

Director: Prof. James Holleman

College Chamber Choir


The Hillsdale College Chamber Choir is selected by audition from the membership of the larger College Choir. This select ensemble performs at many college functions on and off campus and has established a tradition of excellence while exploring the vast repertoire of chamber vocal music.

Director: Prof. James Holleman

Hillsdale College Symphony Orchestra


Professor Emeritus Edwyn Hames founded the Hillsdale College Symphony Orchestra in 1951. Today, the Orchestra is a full symphony orchestra comprised of strings, woodwinds, brass, and percussion with membership open to Hillsdale College students and members of the surrounding Hillsdale community by audition or recommendation of studio professors. Music Department faculty serve as members of the orchestra where they coach their respective sections and lead by example. The orchestra performs a broad range of standard repertoire from the different western stylistic periods including modern works often featuring faculty, student and guest soloists.

Director: Prof. James Holleman

College Jazz Big Band


The Hillsdale College Big Band is a 20-plus piece jazz ensemble modeled after the standard instrumentation of the popular groups of the swing era. The ensemble performs standard charts as well as new compositions. The group maintains an active performing schedule both on and off campus culminating with a main stage performance featuring a guest artist each spring. Past guest artists have included: Trumpeter Marcus Belgrave, Lead Trumpeter Walter White, and Trombonist/Arranger Paul Ferguson.

Director: Prof. Chris McCourry

Jazz Combos


Students interested in playing jazz are assigned to small jazz combos of various instrumentations with other students who share similar experience and technical levels. In the combos, focus is placed on learning to improvise through understanding jazz scales and chord changes. The combos perform at different college and community functions both on and off campus. Most instruments—including voice—are welcomed to participate in the jazz combos.

Director: Prof. Chris McCourry

Chamber Ensembles


Students who chose to participate in various chamber ensembles receive faculty coaching and are given many different venues to perform. Students may either participate in established ensembles or create standard or unique ensembles with other interested students. Currently established ensembles include: String Quartets, Piano Trios, Woodwind Quintet, Brass Quintet, Flute Ensemble, and Guitar Ensemble.

Director: Dr. Melissa Knecht

Opera Workshop


Students enrolled in private voice instruction may participate in the Opera Workshop projects. Opera Workshop varies from performing various individual scenes from the Opera and Broadway repertoire to performing complete operas. Staging, lighting and costumes are kept at a basic level with focus being placed on singing and acting.

Director: Prof. Melissa Osmond

Percussion Ensemble


The Hillsdale Percussion Ensemble specializes in the performance of modern classical percussion chamber music. Founded in 2003, the ensemble consists of percussion majors and minors, as well as enthusiasts who are involved in percussion studies. The ensemble has performed the music of John Cage, Dave Hollinden, Minoru Miki, Steve Reich, Ney Rosuaro and many other composers.

Director: Prof. Stacey Jones

Community Wind Symphony


The Hillsdale Community Wind Symphony is open for participation to members of the surrounding Hillsdale community and Hillsdale College students, faculty and staff. The ensemble rehearses on campus in the Howard Music Building and can being taken for credit by Hillsdale College students. The group performs standard band and wind ensemble repertoire with full instrumentation.

Director: Prof. Robert Livingston

College Pep Band


Performing at Hillsdale College football and basketball games both home and away, the Charger Pep Band is open to any student who chooses to participate. Rehearsals are faculty-led while appointed student leaders from the group get the experience of directing at games.

Student Co-Leaders: Ben Kannel & Jordan Anetsberger