Mission and Mini Mission join an NIU ensemble rehearsal.

All NIU students, regardless of major are welcome to audition for a School of Music Large Ensemble. Some ensembles including World Music Ensembles, All-University Steelband, and University Chorus do not require an audition.

Large ensemble auditions for Fall 2021 will take place beginning Sunday, August 22. Ensemble audition music and registration times will be updated in the coming weeks. Please continue to check back for updates by late May. Please see more information below.

Ensemble Auditions

Audition Information

  • All undergraduate string, wind, and percussion students must appear for large ensemble auditions. Please plan to audition, and prepare all audition materials thoroughly.
  • For any band or orchestral excerpts, please listen to representative recordings to learn the appropriate style, tempo and dynamics for the passage. Performing these aspects of the music correctly is a large part of the audition.
    • Actually learning the music, by analytical listening to multiple versions of the excerpts, will help you grow as a musician and will reflect positively on your audition placement.
    • Playing the right notes but in the wrong style or wrong tempo sends a different message to the audition panel.
    • Listen and analyze before you practice
  • Please make every effort to audition during the time frame designated for your instrument. Doing so gives you the best opportunity for the conductors to accurately assess your skills as compared to your colleagues.
  • Professional attire is expected.
  • Bring a copy of your class schedule to the auditions. The conductors may ask for it if needed.
  • Arrive early for your scheduled time. Be prepared to play early if requested to do so.
  • If necessary, contact the large ensemble representative, Thomas Bough, for more information at tbough@niu.edu

Ensemble Audition Music

Schedule your Ensemble Audition

  • Woodwinds/Brass Ensemble Audition Sign-Up
  • String Ensemble auditions will be conducted via Blackboard Collaborate for Spring 2021, please contact Ben Firer at bfirer@niu.edu with questions or to schedule an audition.
  • Percussion ensemble audition information and music can also be found in the Percussion Area Handbook. To register for your audition, please follow instructions as listed in the Percussion Area Handbook. If you have questions, please contact Greg Beyer at gbeyer@niu.edu


  • Jazz Orchestra
    • M/W 1 p.m. – 2:50 p.m.
    • R. Thomas, dir. 
  • Jazz Ensemble
    • T/Th 4 p.m. – 5:50 p.m.
    • G. Bradfield, dir. (fall 2020) / R. Villanueva, dir.   
  • University Jazz Band 
    • M/W 5:40 p.m. – 7:20 p.m.
    • M. Opitz, dir. 
  • NIU Combos 
    • M/W 1 p.m. – 1:50 p.m.
    • T/Th 1 p.m. – 1:50 p.m. 

Audition Information

If you are interested in joining a Jazz Ensemble for Spring 2021 semester, please contact Geof Bradfield at gbradfield@niu.edu or Rodrigo Villanueva at villanueva@niu.edu to schedule an audition.


We are looking forward to meeting you at your audition this Spring and getting to know you in our ensembles. For the 2020-21 academic year there are three curricular choirs to sing in: two auditioned ensembles (Concert Choir and Chamber Choir) and one open to all with no audition needed, University Chorus (info on each below).

Auditions for Concert Choir will be held on Sunday, January 10, 2 - 4 p.m. You can sign up for an audition slot right now at go.niu.edu/choralauditions.

For the audition this spring, you should prepare the first verse of the American Folksong, Shenandoah. This beautiful melody will be a perfect vehicle to demonstrate your vocal technique and musicality. As you prepare the score, please think about adding dynamic shaping and phrasing that reveals your musical ideas. In the audition we want to hear your musical insights. We may ask you to sing Shenandoah in a few different keys (higher or lower) depending upon your voice part.

In addition to singing Shenandoah, we will ask you to sing some basic triads, sight read a simple phrase and do some vocalese to hear your full range.

One word of advice, as you work out your course schedule, please notice the choral rehearsal times. If, for example, you are auditioning for Concert Choir, it would wise to keep the rehearsal times open in your schedule. It is possible to make changes to your schedule once you get to campus, but it's easier to do it up front.

Choral Ensembles

  • University Chorus
    • Tue/Thur 4 - 5:15 p.m.
    • This is a non-auditioned choir.
    • This is an SATB large ensemble.
    • University Chorus is often a mix of instrumental music majors and singers from other majors across campus who had great high school choral experiences and they just want to keep singing in college.
    • This ensemble is conducted by Prof. Doherty.
  • Concert Choir
    • Mon/Wed/Fri 2 - 3:30 p.m.
    • This is an auditioned large ensemble.
    • The group has both music majors and non-majors with good music skills. Many of the non-music majors come from strong HS choral programs and they are looking for the challenges and rewards of advanced choral music.
    • Concert Choir often performs for area high schools and short run-out concerts. In the spring, Concert Choir often performs large choral orchestral works with the NIU Philharmonic.
    • This ensemble is conducted by Prof. Johnson.
  • Chamber Choir
    • Tue/Thur 12:30 - 1:45 p.m.
    • This is a select mixed vocal ensemble of 16-20 singers that focuses on advanced ensemble repertoire.
    • Personal performance expectations are high as singers are often assigned one or two voices per part.
    • Chamber Choir often performs off campus events representing the university as various official functions.
    • Enrollment is open to all NIU students through the audition process, but there is a high degree of music reading proficiency and outside class independent work expected.
    • This ensemble is conducted by Prof. Johnson.

If you have any questions, please email Eric Johnson (ejohnsn@niu.edu) or Mary Lynn Doherty (mdoherty@niu.edu). We are looking forward to making music with you this fall.

Opera Theatre is a great opportunity for students to learn more about opera and expand their musical and performance experiences. Opera Theatre is competitive, and spots are traditionally given to sophomores – seniors. As a first-year student, it is strongly encouraged that you speak with your voice studio instructor about your interest and involvement in Opera Theatre prior to auditioning.

  • Fall semester - opera scenes
  • Spring semester - staged opera with NIU Philharmonic

As part of your audition, you will be required to perform two different works. It is recommended that one piece is in a foreign language. Repertoire selections may include Arias from standard operatic repertoire. Please make sure you bring two additional copies of your repertoire - one for the pianist and one for the panel. You may arrange your own accompanist or contact the Opera Graduate Assistant, Heewon Cha.

If you have questions about repertoire selections, audition process, or contacting Ms. Cha, please contact Prof. Ben Firer at bfirer@niu.edu.

Schedule your Opera Theatre audition at go.niu.edu/operaauditions

The All-University Steelband is open to any student, regardless of major (music and non-music). If you have questions about registering for Steelpan ensembles, please contact Prof. Teague at lteague@niu.edu.

We have numerous World Music ensembles for students to participate in, including Chinese Music Ensemble, Indonesian Gamelan Ensemble and Thai Music Ensemble. There is no audition for these ensembles and all students are welcome. Please contact Prof. Chamni Sripraram at csripraram@niu.edu if you have questions.

Community School of the Arts

Non-music majors may also participate in the Community School of the Arts, which offers music lessons and ensembles for people in the community. The teachers are community musicians, as well as School of Music graduate and undergraduate students and faculty. These activities do not carry any credit hours. Visit the Office of External Programs to learn more.