The Setnor School of Music offers a variety of choral and instrumental ensembles open to students of all majors across Syracuse University and the neighboring SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. Some ensembles require an audition, while others are open to all.
Instrumental Ensembles Link
The Setnor School of Music’s instrumental ensembles range from small chamber ensembles to the 200-member Pride of the Orange Marching Band. Select an ensemble from the list below to learn more.
Chamber ensembles are organized each semester to rehearse and perform literature for a variety of instrumental combinations. Contact the faculty member listed below to learn more.
The Contemporary Music Ensemble is a collection of smaller ensembles assembled each semester to perform the music of our time, with programs drawing from American and international repertoires.
James R. Tapia
The Syracuse University Symphony Orchestra (SUSO) offers a unique experience in music making at the highest level. While symphony orchestras are associated in the popular imagination with music that is old and “classic,” our orchestra is committed to stylistic diversity, with a repertoire that spans four centuries.
The orchestra prides itself on unique programming and exposing its audiences and players to a wide array of styles, genres, and time periods. It routinely pairs works of Beethoven or Brahms alongside 20th-century masterworks. The SUSO regularly collaborates with Setnor faculty members to present concerto repertoire, opera arias, or orchestral songs of Strauss and Wolf. The orchestra does regular readings of student-composed orchestral works so that composition students have recordings of their large works. Members of SUSO also play for Setnor's Opera Workshop production every January.
SUSO holds an annual concerto and aria competition, where students compete to perform solo and concertos with the full orchestra. The competition is held each March, and the winners’ recital takes place each April. Graduate conducting students often guest conduct for performances.
The orchestra is directed by James R. Tapia, director of orchestral activities at the Setnor School of Music.
James R. Tapia
The Syracuse University Marching Band (SUMB, the Pride of the Orange, or the Pride) performs for all home football games in the 50,000-seat Carrier Dome. It is one of the finest university marching band programs in the nation and the flagship college band in the state of New York.
The band occasionally takes one regular-season trip and travels to every continental post-season bowl game. The 200-member band is made up of students representing all majors throughout the University and provides action and excitement for participants and audiences alike.
If you have played a wind or percussion instrument in your high school band, we invite you to join! No audition is required. The only requirement is attendance at Band Camp the week prior to the start of fall classes. The only additional requirements are maximum effort, total involvement, and dedication to excellence.
Rehearsal times are scheduled at the end of the day when there are few conflicts with other classes and activities. With rare exceptions, they are held in the Carrier Dome. This makes us the only college band in the Northeast with an indoor rehearsal facility. Excellent seats in the Dome place the Pride in the center of action at every home game.
To learn more or to join the SUMB, visit band.vpa.syr.edu.
The Concert Band is a non-audition concert ensemble open to both music majors and non-majors. It offers an opportunity to perform outstanding large-band works.
The Concert Band rehearses on Wednesday evenings during the spring semester and provides an excellent opportunity for Syracuse University Marching Band members to make music in a concert setting. The band performs in Crouse College’s Setnor Auditorium at the end of the spring semester.
The Wind Ensemble is Syracuse University's premiere concert band and is primarily made up of musicians from within the Setnor School of Music.
Under the direction of Bradley Ethington, the Wind Ensemble performs literature ranging from the largest symphonic works requiring all of its performers to “one-to-a-part” chamber works calling for eight to 24 performers. Two concerts are presented each semester on campus with guest soloists and conductors adding to the varied musical experiences.
Recordings of the Wind Ensemble are available through the SU Bookstore.
The Sour Sitrus Society is the spark behind the nationally recognized Syracuse University men’s basketball team.
This basketball pep band performs for all men’s home games and usually travels with the team for playoff and NCAA tournament games. The group is a student-organized and -directed ensemble open to all student musicians campus wide.
Choral Ensembles Link
The Setnor School of Music’s choral ensembles are open to every student regardless of major. The select choirs include University Singers, Oratorio Society, and Hendricks Chapel Choir. These choirs, along with Orange Collective and Orange Syndicate (vocal jazz), require an audition. Participation in Crouse Chorale and Concert Choir does not require an audition; however, students must attend an audition for voice screening (for placement only). Select an ensemble from below to learn more.
The Setnor School of Music’s choral activities area offers a varied slate of choirs open to all students and conducted by outstanding faculty.
Choral singing has a rich tradition at Syracuse University, and our mission is to continually grow the standard of excellence that has been so clearly established throughout the history of the Setnor School. We strive to provide outstanding choral ensemble experiences to all SU students, preparing them for a lifelong contribution to the choral world community.
Each of our choral ensembles offers singers, both graduate and undergraduate, an opportunity for training, musical exploration, and personal growth in all aspects of the choral art regardless of the student’s major. Additionally, we seek to teach all singers the fundamental elements of music and collaboration. In our choirs you will sing the great choral orchestral works with professional orchestra, reach the highest levels of precision and expression in a variety of genres and styles, perform with students from diverse majors and all colleges of SU, perform diverse styles of vocal jazz of today and yesterday, and tour the world.
The choral activities area also supports the activities of many student-led vocal groups and sponsors the student chapter of the American Choral Directors Association.
The audition serves as an opportunity for experienced faculty to guide students in selecting the choral ensemble that fits them best. While not every ensemble requires an audition, we strongly encourage anyone interested in singing in one of our choirs to complete an audition.
Auditions are held at the beginning of every semester. They are held in Room 302 Crouse College and last about eight minutes. No preparation is necessary. The audition consists of vocalization (listening to your tone and determining your vocal range), tonal memory exercises, and sight-singing. There will also be time to answer any questions you may have about the different choirs we offer.
To schedule an audition, or for questions about choral singing at SU, contact the choral activities area at 315.443.4106 or . Please note that Orange Collective and Orange Syndicate (vocal jazz), Black Celestial Choral Ensemble, and all student a cappella groups hold their own auditions. Contact the individual organization directly to learn about their audition process and to schedule an audition.
For more than 50 years, the Syracuse University Singers have upheld a rich tradition of excellence in choral singing characteristic of the most select vocal musicians of the Setnor School of Music at Syracuse University. Known for its sensitivity to detail and musicianship, the choir delights in its diversity in repertoire. Whether performing a renaissance motet, an African-American spiritual, a grand orchestral masterwork, or the premiere of a contemporary composition, the choir sings with great understanding of text and style.
The choir will perform for the National Conference of the National Collegiate Choral Organization in Baton Rouge, Louisiana in November 2017. In May 2015, the University Singers won the Grand Prix de Ville de Tours in the Florilège Vocal de Tours, an international competition in Tours, France. The choir competed as a Finalist in the European Grand Prix for Choral Singing held in Varna, Bulgaria in May 2016. University Singers has been invited to sing for multiple conferences of the American Choral Directors Association including its recent appearance at the 2014 Eastern Division Conference in Baltimore. Additionally, the ensemble has toured throughout the Eastern United States and Canada.
The ensemble is comprised of 32-40 undergraduate and graduate students from a variety of disciplines and regularly performs with professional orchestras in Syracuse, New York. Recent masterworks include the Requiems by Brahms, Fauré, and Verdi, Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, Mahler’s 2nd Symphony and Haydn’s The Creation. The choir’s first CD, Mysteries and Wonders, is available on ITunes and Amazon.com.
- 2017-18: Louisiana, National Collegiate Choral Organization National Conference
- 2017: New York City
- 2016: Bulgaria, European Grand Prix for Choral Singing, and New York City
- 2015: France, Florilége Vocal de Tours
- 2014: Baltimore, Eastern Region American Choral Directors Conference
- 2013: Chicago
- 2012: Toronto
- 2011: Boston
- 2010: Philadelphia, Eastern Region American Choral Directors Conference
- 2009: Washington, DC
- 2008: Hartford, CT, Eastern Region American Choral Directors Conference
- 2006: Buffalo, Niagara Falls
Founded in 1975, the Syracuse University Oratorio Society is a mixed vocal ensemble comprised of Syracuse University students and community members that regularly collaborates with Symphoria, Central New York’s professional orchestra, to perform choral-orchestral masterworks.
The Oratorio Society has been directed by John Warren, associate professor of music and director of choral activities, since 2011.
The Oratorio Society accepts new members by audition. The choir rehearses from late August through April on Monday evenings from 7-9:30 p.m. and presents four or five concerts during the season.
Auditions for community members are held in late August at Crouse College. Students may audition at the start of each semester. Singers are asked to vocalize, sight-sing, and perform aural tests. The duration of the audition is approximately eight minutes. Current community members are re-auditioned every three years.
Founded in 1929, the Hendricks Chapel Choir is one of the great musical traditions of Syracuse University.
Directed by Professor José “Peppie” Calvar and accompanied by University Organist Anne Laver, the Hendricks Chapel Choir is an auditioned mixed ensemble representing many of the colleges and majors available at Syracuse University and the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. One of five all-student choirs within the Setnor School of Music, the Hendricks Chapel Choir rehearses once weekly on Thursday evenings, meets for sectional rehearsals for an additional hour per week, and is the featured ensemble at weekly Dean’s Convocation at Hendricks Chapel on Sundays at 7p.m. The choir performs as the featured ensemble at Holidays at Hendricks, which hosts a live audience of more than 1,000 and is broadcast via public television stations throughout upstate New York.
Over the past ten years, the Hendricks Chapel Choir has traveled to Germany; Poland; Argentina; Chile; Uruguay; China; and Washington, D.C. The choir performs a wide variety of music from diverse historical, cultural, and stylistic origins. Past and present members of the Hendricks Chapel Choir embody the best parts of Syracuse University: our students’ desire to serve one another, their University, their community, and their world.
Opera Workshop offers you the opportunity to learn the craft of the singing actor in a “learn by doing” setting. It produces one complete opera annually, fully staged with orchestra, in Crouse College’s Setnor Auditorium. An additional project of scenes and arias takes place in the spring semester.
Opera Workshop is open to all Syracuse University students by audition. The main stage projects are produced under the name of the Syracuse University Opera Theatre and are among the highlights of the Setnor performing season. Care is taken to select repertoire that is suitable for young voices and to present it in an acoustically safe environment. All works are performed in English; reduced orchestrations are used whenever appropriate. The emphasis is on giving the greatest number of qualified students the chance to perform complete roles that are appropriate for their individual stage of development, and casts invariably feature undergraduates in major roles. Ensemble acting is stressed over elaborate production values.
Opera Workshop enjoys a close relationship with the Syracuse Opera, and many of its students are engaged to sing in the chorus. Several outstanding undergraduates have made their professional debuts with the company in supporting roles. Students have been invited to observe rehearsals as members of a “shadow cast,” and recent years have seen master classes with former artistic director Richard McKee, musical director Douglas Kinney Frost, and conductor John DiCostanzo as part of the spring semester curriculum.
The Concert Choir is a mixed choir that offers a singing experience to students and staff from every area of Syracuse University life.
Directed by Professor José “Peppie” Calvar, Concert Choir performs every year during Family Weekend and is featured at Holidays at Hendricks, a performance with 1,000 live audience members that is broadcast on public television stations throughout upstate New York. The Concert Choir prepares at least two major concerts and several smaller appearances during the academic year. The repertoire consists of music from diverse historical, cultural, and stylistic origins.
The choir is a non-auditioned choir for any student (regardless of major or voice type) who loves to sing.
The SU Vocal Jazz ensemble performs several styles of jazz, including swing, bop, contemporary, Latin, and blues, with an emphasis on vocal improvisation.
Established in 1981, the ensemble has shared the stage with an impressive list of performing artists and jazz educators and has performed in a variety of venues. Comprised of no more than 16 voices, the group performs literature from the most current catalogs of vocal jazz writers and arrangers. An additional rhythm section performs with SU Vocal Jazz.
Jazz and Commercial Music Ensembles Link
The Morton Schiff Jazz Ensemble and its related jazz ensembles provide both music majors and non-music majors the opportunity to perform traditional, modern, jazz, pop, and contemporary compositions throughout the year.
The ensembles are designed to give students the opportunity to learn to play lead parts, section work, and to improvise solos. Composers performed include Thad Jones, Toshiko Akiyoski, Duke Ellington, Henry Mancini, Charlie Parker, and Count Basie.
The ensembles perform a series of concerts in Shemin Auditorium, located in Shaffer Art Building. The ensembles have hosted the International Association of Jazz Educators (New York State) Jazz Festival and participated in the New York State Inter-Collegiate Jazz Festival. They participate in a number of concerts and festivals each year and have performed with such jazz artists as Dizzy Gillespie, Marshall McDonald, Rob McConnell, Nick Brignola, Marvin Stamm, and Freddy Hubbard.
Auditions for the jazz ensembles take place during the first week of school.
Samba Laranja is Syracuse University’s Brazilian Music Ensemble. The ensemble combines voice and percussion to perform several styles of Brazilian music, with an emphasis on samba (from Rio de Janeiro’s Carnaval); samba-reggae (from Salvador, Bahia); forró (from Brazil’s northeast); bossa nova; the music of Capoeira; and MPB (Brazilian popular music).
This is a non-auditioned group opened to any Syracuse University student. Samba Laranja sings in English and Portugese and has recorded several albums available from the SU Bookstore.
The Syracuse All Steel Percussion Orchestra (SASPO) plays a wide variety of music, from jazz to classical, calypso to soca and rock to hip-hop. The band’s name is an homage to TASPO, a pioneering band from Trinidad that helped lead the development of this dynamic ensemble.
The Two O'Clock Jazz Ensemble engages in the survey and analysis of traditional and contemporary jazz compositions at the beginner/intermediate levels through the application of specific rehearsal/performance techniques appropriate for jazz music. Requirements for enrollment include music reading skills and intermediate-level instrumental technique. No audition is required.