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. 

Information for Fall 2022 Large Ensemble Auditions is available now!


Ensemble Auditions

Audition Information 

  • All undergraduate string, wind, and percussion students must appear for large ensemble auditions. Please prepare all audition materials thoroughly for your audition. 

  • 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. 
    • 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. 

Ensemble Audition Music

Schedule your Ensemble Audition

Ensemble Times 

  • MUSE 330/630: Wind Symphony - M/W 2:00-3:40 p.m.

  • MUSE 331/631: Wind Ensemble - Tu/Th 2:00-3:50 p.m., M/W 1:00-1:50 p.m. (sectionals)

  • MUSE 360/660: NIU Philharmonic – M/W 2:00-3:50 p.m., Tu/Th 4:00-4:50 (sectionals)

If you are interested in Chamber Music Ensembles, please contact your studio faculty member and Professor Brown for more details regarding registration and ensemble placement. 

  • MUSE 315/615: String Ensemble
    • M/W 1:00-1:50 p.m. OR Tu/Th 1:00-1:50 p.m.
  • MUSE 316/616: Woodwind Ensemble
    • M/W 1:00-1:50 p.m. OR Tu/Th 1:00-1:50 p.m.
    • (sec. 3) Flute Choir (Fri 12-1 p.m.)
  • MUSE 317/617: Brass Ensemble
    • M/W 1:00-1:50 p.m. OR Tu/Th 1:00-1:50 p.m.
    • (sec. 3) Trombone Choir – Fri 12:00-1:50 p.m.
  • MUSE 318/618: Percussion Ensemble
    • M/W 12:00-12:50 p.m. OR Tu/Th 12:00-12:50 p.m.
  • MUSE 320/620: Keyboard Ensemble – TBD
  • MUSE 365/665: Campus String Orchestra – Mon 7:30-10:00 p.m.

Audition Information

All undergraduate music majors and anyone interested in or required to participate in large ensembles must audition. 

2022 Jazz ensemble audition is now available.  You will also be required to sightread music to be provided. 

Please read the following information carefully. If you play a wind or brass instrument, you may need to register for more than one audition. If you play a rhythm instrument, you will register only for the major/combo auditions.  

NIU Large Ensemble Jazz Auditions  

(Jazz Orchestra – Jazz Ensemble – All University Jazz Band) 

Wind and Brass auditions for Jazz Orchestra, Jazz Ensemble and University Jazz Band will take place at posted times on Sunday, August 21 and Monday, August 22.  

Register for the audition at: go.niu.edu/woodwind_brass_auditions 

If you will be auditioning for other large ensembles as well (Wind Ensemble, Wind Symphony, Philharmonic), you will need to sign up for 2 consecutive time slots. Otherwise, you only need to sign up for 1 time slot.  

NIU Jazz Major/Combo Auditions  

Jazz majors must participate in these auditions. Other wind and brass players who are only auditioning for big band are not required to participate in the individual audition. 

Individual auditions will take place within your applied studio and will be used in determining combo placement. These auditions may also assist in big band placement.  

Register for the audition at: go.niu.edu/jazzauditions

The schedule will be as follows:  

Tuesday, August 23 1 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. – MB 109 

Tuesday, August 23 10 a.m.-12 p.m. – MB 122 

All Rhythm
Monday, August 22 2 p.m. - 3:50 p.m.; 5:40 p.m. – 7:20 p.m. – MB158 
Tuesday, August 23 4 p.m. – 5:50 p.m. – MB158 

Audition requirements: 

  1. Technique 
    1. Scales/technical exercises determined by the applied teacher.  
    2. Common triad and 7th chord arpeggios (Major, minor, dominant, diminished) 

  2. Improvisation
    1. Blues melody of choice; improvise 2 choruses (rhythm section players will also comp appropriate to style) 
    2. Rhythm changes or standard melody of choice; improvise 1 chorus (rhythm section players will also comp appropriate to style) 

  3. Reading
    1. Sight reading: given lead sheet of standard or common jazz tune; improvise 1 chorus. 

Results will be posted and announced at the end of the first week of the semester and rehearsals will begin during the second week.

Contact: Reggie Thomas (reggiethomas@niu.edu)

Ensemble Times

  • NIU Jazz Orchestra
    • M/W 2:00 - 3:50 p.m.
  • Jazz Ensemble
    • T/Th 4 p.m. – 5:50 p.m.
  • University Jazz Band 
    • M/W 5:40 p.m. – 7:20 p.m.
  • MUSE 324/624: Jazz Combos 
    • M/W 1 – 1:50 p.m. OR Tu/Th 1 - 1:50 p.m.
    • (sec 3) Jazztet - M/W 11 - 11:50 a.m.



Greetings from Dr. Johnson and Dr. Doherty! 

We are looking forward to meeting you at your audition this August and getting to know you in our ensembles. 

For the audition this year, you should prepare Measures 1-17 of Antonio Lotti’s Crucifixus. This is an 8 part motet. Pick the voice part that best matches your comfortable singing range (SI, SII, AI, AII, TI, TII, BI, or BII).  The tempos is VERY slow, quarter note = around 55. Although the lines appear simple, there is great room for expressivity within each individual line. Please add your own musical expression to the audition. Here is a link of a Cambridge Singers recording with the score, please use as a musical reference, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OZ9dXLmRlpo.

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

Note to Returning voice students: Although we have worked together already, this audition is your opportunity to demonstrate your own musical and vocal growth over the last time we heard you sing alone. We want you hear what you’ve accomplished over the summer!!

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 easier to do it up front. 

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

Drs. Johnson and Doherty  

Schedule your Ensemble Audition

Choral Audition Sign-Up

  • Concert Choir (MUSE 345/645): M/W 2:00-2:50 p.m. AND Tu/Th 2:00-3:15 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 Dr. Johnson.
  • Chamber Choir (MUSE 341/641): M/W/F 1:00-1:50 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 Dr. Johnson.
  • University Chorus (MUSE 342/642): M/W 4:00-5:15 p.m.
    • This is a non-auditioned SATB choir. 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 Dr. Doherty.

Opera Theatre is a great opportunity for students to learn more about opera and expand their musical and performance experiences. All students are eligible to audition for your annual fully produced opera at NIU in the Spring. In the Fall you may audition for the ACTING THE SONG and OPERA SCENES courses. These classes teach valuable performance skills that will strengthen anyone's ability to perform onstage or learn to be in front of an audience or classroom. Both Musical Theatre and Classical Repertoire are used in the Acting the Song and Opera Scenes courses.

As part of your audition, you will be required to perform two contrasting works. It is recommended that one piece is in a foreign language, but not required. Repertoire selections may include arias from standard operatic repertoire or musical theatre pieces. Please make sure you bring two additional copies of your repertoire - one for the pianist and one for the panel.

If you have questions about repertoire selections or audition process, please contact Professor Wester at jwester@niu.edu

Schedule your Ensemble Audition

Opera Audition Sign-Up

Ensemble Times

  • MUSE 343/643: Opera Theatre
    • Tu/Th 3:30-5:00 p.m. (beginners), 5:00-6:30 p.m. (advanced)

The All-University Steelband is open to any student, regardless of major (music and non-music). The ability to read music is preferred.

Please contact Professor Liam Teague at lteague@niu.edu to enroll in Steelband I or if you have questions about any steelpan ensemble.

Ensemble Times

All University Steelband (MUSE 373/673)

  • Tu/Th: 4:30 – 5:30 pm

Steelband I (MUSE 372/672)

  • M/Tu/W/Th: 1:00 – 1:50 pm

We have numerous additional World Music ensembles for students to participate in addition to our Steelpan ensembles. There is no audition for many of these ensembles and all students are welcome to register and participate. Please contact Dr. Jui-Ching Wang at jcwang@niu.edu if you have questions.

Ensemble Times

MUSE 321/621 Mixed Ensemble 

  • (sec. 2) Thai Ensemble Tu: 2:00 – 4:00 p.m.
  • (sec. 4) Korean Drumming M: 2:00 - 4:00 p.m.

MUSE 370/670 Gamelan

  • M: 5:00 – 7:00 p.m.

MUSE 375/675 Chinese Music Ensemble

  • W: 3:00 – 5:00 p.m.

Banda NIU

Banda NIU is a new ensemble at NIU that honors the tradition of the great bandas of the western Mexican state of Sinaloa. Its long and rich history is drawn on collaboration between European immigrants to Mexico in the 1800s and popular Mexican song. The most popular subgenre of regional Mexican music, Banda relies solely on an instrumentation of wind instruments (unlike Mariachi and Noteño) featuring brass, clarinets, percussion and singers.

MUSE 321/621: Mixed Ensemble  

  • (Sec. 1) Banda NIU F: 2:30 – 4:00 pm 

Mariachi NIU

Mariachi NIU is the mariachi ensemble of the NIU School of Music. Students can audition and should be able to read music and have considerable performance experience with their instrument including violin, guitar, vihuela, guitarrón, trumpet, harp and voice. 

MUSE 321/621: Mixed Ensemble  

  • (Sec. 3) Mariachi NIU TBD 

Students interested in participating in Banda and Mariachi should contact Dr. Scanlon (cscanlon1@niu.edu). 

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.