World Music Ensembles

Ensembles are open to all students, regardless of major. Learn more about large ensemble auditions.

Chinese Music Ensemble

The Chinese Music Ensemble was one of the first college Chinese music groups in the U.S. and currently is the only one in Illinois. Established by Professor Emeritus Kuo-Huang Han in the 1970s, it gave several national and international concert performances between 1976 and 1978. Members of the ensemble learn to play assorted authentic Chinese instruments.

Individual lessons and group rehearsals make up the major part of the curriculum, and Chinese musical instruments are available for short-term loan on a semester basis. In addition, members of the ensemble will also be introduced to basic Chinese music theory, the standard repertoire of Chinese instrumental and chamber music, and knowledge about performance practice along with the aesthetic values and symbolism of Chinese traditional music.

Selected performance clips:

Gamelan Ensemble

Gamelan is a percussion-dominated ensemble from Indonesia. It is the most popular Asian ensemble in the world, having 120 sets in the United States. The NIU School of Music teaches the Central Javanese and Balinese gamelans and gives regular concerts and demonstrations. Many composers, including students and faculty at NIU, also write new compositions for the gamelan.

Korean Drumming Ensemble

Korean Drumming Ensemble teaches two performance genres derived from Pungmul (Korean traditional folk music), Seoljanggu and Samulnori. Seoljanggu is a collection of janggu (hourglass-shaped drum) rhythms, while Samulnori is a percussion quartet consisting of four instruments, two gongs and two drums. In this ensemble, students will learn to play assorted percussion instruments in traditional style and to create their own Samulnori rhythms. 

Middle Eastern Ensemble*

The Middle Eastern Music Ensemble provides an opportunity for students to learn the theoretical, practical and historical perspectives of Pan-Arabic music traditions. Throughout the course, students will be introduced to a wide range of Pan-Arabic music styles, with a certain emphasis on irregular rhythmic modes and maqams (tonal/melodic systems).

Repertoire to be studied in the ensemble ranges from classical pieces to religious, folk, popular and children’s songs from the Middle Eastern region. Guest artists from the Middle East (Turkey, Syria and Morocco) are regularly invited to give concerts, master classes and workshops.

Thai Music Ensemble*

Under the direction of Thai music specialist, Chamni Sripraram, Thai music ensemble is the newest addition to the NIU World Music Program. Members of the Thai music ensemble study assorted Thai music styles, including the classical court and the northeastern folkloric styles, including music and instruments of the Piphat, Mahori, and Khrueang sai ensembles and the Mor Lam.

Other ensembles featuring music from around the globe include Banda NIU, Mariachi NIU and our Steelpan ensembles.

Contact Us

Music Building
Monday - Friday
8 a.m. - noon
1 - 4:30 p.m.

Austyn V. Menk
Music Admissions Coordinator

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