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Music

Ensembles

Ensembles

Ensemble participation is a fundamental part of education in the music programs at Mason Gross. In addition to an annual concerto competition and two chamber music competitions each, students have the opportunity to play in over 300 performances each year with large ensembles, chamber groups, master classes, and solo recitals. These performances take place on- and off-campus and venues in New York City.

Choral Ensembles

Jazz Ensembles

Opera and Early Music Ensemble

Orchestral Ensembles

Wind Bands and Ensembles

Small Ensembles

Rutgers Concert Bureau

Choral Ensembles

Rutgers University Glee Club

The Rutgers University Glee Club traces its roots back to 1872 and has been among the nation’s premier collegiate choirs. Significant honors, recent concerts, and recordings under director Patrick Gardner reflect the ensemble’s current high level of recognition for the superior quality of its choral sound and its imaginative programming of new music by significant composers. The performance of major choral/orchestral works for men’s ensemble has been a significant part of the Rutgers Glee Club’s recent activities. In 2000, the Glee Club joined with the Philadelphia Singers to perform Schoenberg’s Gurrelieder with the Philadelphia Orchestra under the direction of Sir Simon Rattle. The Rutgers Glee Club complements such major undertakings with presentations of a repertory ranging from traditional college songs through 19th-century masterworks for men’s chorus.

In February 2020, the Rutgers University Glee Club performed at the American Choral Directors Association’s (ACDA) Eastern Division conference in Rochester, New York—their fourth performance at the division level, complementing their two performances at ACDA national conferences. Their performance in 2017 of the Brahms Alto Rhapsody with Metropolitan Opera mezzo-soprano Margaret Lattimore at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall was presented to a standing-room-only audience.

Rutgers University Kirkpatrick Choir

Rutgers University Kirkpatrick Choir, with approximately 50 members, is the most advanced choir at Mason Gross. Its mission: to educate professional musicians through performance. The choir performs a significant repertory of major choral orchestral masterworks, Baroque music accompanied by period instruments, and important works of the 20th and 21st centuries. Rutgers Kirkpatrick Choir was approached by the Milken Archive of American Jewish Music to record several CDs of important 20th-century works, including Miriam Gideon’s Sacred Service, which was released as part of the Milken Archive’s comprehensive multiyear recording series on Naxos American Classics series. They also have a Naxos release of Samuel Adler’s Five Sephardic Songs. The release of their Naxos distributed CD, The Fire Within on the Affetto label, presented Lou Harrison’s setting of the Buddhist Heart Sutro, “La Koro Sutro,” allowing home audiences to hear the major work presented in the concert listed by The New York Times as one of the “Top Ten Classical Music Performances of 2017.”

Rutgers University Kirkpatrick Choir capped the 2019-20 school year with an award-winning performance in Germany at the Marktoberdorf Festival, following their work as the ensemble-in-residence at the University of Saarland in Saarbrücken, Germany. In April 2019 the choir performed the Brahms Requiemat Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall in New York City.  

Rutgers University Choir

Rutgers University Choir is a large mixed ensemble that performs standard choral repertory in two concerts a year. Several years ago, the University Choir joined Rutgers Kirkpatrick Choir, Rutgers University Glee Club, Voorhees Choir, and Rutgers University Orchestra to present excerpts from Carmina Burana at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center as part of the Rutgers University campaign kickoff gala.

Rutgers Voorhees Choir

Rutgers Voorhees Choir maintains a membership of 65 voices, all women of the university. The choir presents two major concerts each year and serves as the official college choir at Douglass Residential College events, such as the Yule Log, Sacred Path, and commencement ceremonies. The Voorhees Choir has a long tradition of representing Rutgers University, from its beginnings as the choir of the New Jersey College for Women, as the official choir of Douglass College. It enjoys an important dual role as an ensemble in the Mason Gross School of the Arts and its continuing work as an institution of pride representing the Douglass Residential College.

In juried processes, the Rutgers University Voorhees Choir was selected to give two first-ever high profile performances—one at Carnegie Hall in April 2019 and the other at the Eastern Region of the American Choral Directors Association’s conference in March 2020.

Jazz Ensembles

Rutgers Jazz Ensemble

The Rutgers Jazz Ensemble, directed by Conrad Herwig, is the top student jazz ensemble at Mason Gross School of the Arts. The group has played in commercials with Ray Charles, performed at the fifth-anniversary celebration of Harmony Hall in Fukui, Japan, and has had several gigs at the legendary Blue Note Jazz Club in New York City.

The ensemble honored the legacy of the late professor Vic Juris on March 6, 2020, with a memorial concert featuring guitarist David Stryker, and custom ensemble arrangements by composer Bob Mintzer and faculty member Marc Stasio.

Rutgers Chamber Jazz Ensembles

The Rutgers Chamber Jazz Ensembles are a contrast to the large ensemble classes offered at the school, helping students master technique, improvisation, and repertoire in a chamber group setting. They are typically seven to 12 pieces, emphasizing smaller ensemble dynamics essential to leading professional careers in music.

Rutgers University Mingus Ensemble

The Rutgers University Mingus Ensemble features the music of jazz icon Charles Mingus. The ensemble helps students master technique, improvisation, repertoire, and sight-reading to prepare them for successful careers in the performing arts.

Opera and Early Music Ensembles

Opera Theater Rutgers

Opera Theater Rutgers presents fully staged operas and opera scenes each year. Recent performances include:

  • Albert Herring by Benjamin Britten
  • Gianni Schicchi and Il Tabarro by Giacomo Puccini
  • Le Nozze di Figaro by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  • Dialogues of the Carmelites by Francis Poulenc
  • Cendrillon by Jules Massenet – National Opera Association award
  • Falstaff by Giuseppe Verdi – National Opera Association award
  • The Rape of Lucretia by Benjamin Britten – National Association of Opera award
  • Lakmé by Léo Delibes – National Opera Association award
  • Cosi Fan Tutte by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Orchestral Ensembles

Rutgers Symphony Orchestra

One of the nation’s leading conservatory orchestras, the Rutgers Symphony Orchestra (RSO) is the flagship ensemble of the Mason Gross instrumental program. Presenting an annual concert series of symphonic programs and a main-stage opera, RSO aims to prepare students for professional careers as orchestral musicians by tackling the major symphonic repertoire, which in recent seasons has included Mahler, Strauss, Beethoven, and Brahms Symphonic cycles.

Each season, RSO hosts student composition readings/recordings and an annual concerto competition, which awards winners with a solo performance the following season. RSO has performed at Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall, Symphony Space, and New Jersey Performing Arts Center with many of the world’s leading conductors including maestros James Judd, Andrea Quinn, and Rossen Milanov; soloists Lara St. John, Philippe Quint, Barbara Dever, Thomas Studebaker, Nancy Gustafson, Susan Starr, Ruth Laredo, Alexander Ivashkin, and Paquito D’Rivera, and pop artists Ray Charles and Jay-Z. In addition, it has recorded for Naxos with all concerts broadcast nationally on 89.1 WWFM.

Rutgers Sinfonia

Rutgers Sinfonia, founded in 1995 as Rutgers Philharmonia, draws its membership from Mason Gross undergraduate students as well as the most talented players from the broader university community. Sinfonia performs once each semester, concentrating on the central works of the orchestral repertory. Programs in past seasons have included the Fifth and Eighth Symphonies of Beethoven, the Unfinished Symphony of Schubert, and such popular works as Barber’s Adagio and Rimsky-Korsakov’s Capriccio Espagnol.

Rutgers Sinfonia also sponsors a concerto competition for Sinfonia performers each fall. The winner of the competition performs the concerto with the Sinfonia during the spring concert.

Rutgers University String Ensemble

Rutgers University String Ensemble models itself on the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, rehearsing and performing chamber orchestra repertoire without a conductor. The Orpheus model brings the benefits of a chamber music approach to smaller orchestral repertoire. The ensemble is led by students in as many aspects as possible, including repertoire choice, concert and rehearsal scheduling, rehearsal techniques, and interpretative decisions. Effective collaboration is essential to the success of this ensemble. The ensemble is coached by Jonathan Spitz, a long-time member of Orpheus, and the head of strings at Mason Gross.

Wind Bands and Ensembles

Wind Ensemble

Rutgers Wind Ensemble, founded during the early 1960s, performs masterworks of the wind repertoire and new works, including pieces composed expressly for the group. The ensemble has performed with a variety of guest conductors, including H. Robert Reynolds, James Keane, Jerry Junkin, Mallory Thompson, Eugene Migliaro Corporon, Dennis Fisher, Frank Battisti, Thomas Leslie, Harry Begian, Kenneth G. Bloomquist, James Croft, James Curnow, David Holsinger, and Stephen Pratt, and at professional conferences including the College Band Directors National Association Conference in 2005 and its Eastern Division Conference in 2016. Numerous recordings of the ensemble are available on the Mark Custom label with several recordings having earned Grammy® entry listings. Their recording of “Dance Rhythms” received three Grammy® entry listings.

Symphonic Winds

Rutgers Symphonic Winds performs both standard and contemporary literature from the wind-band repertoire. The ensemble includes both music and non-music majors and has performed with guest artists such as the Boston Brass, the Imani Winds, and Joe Alessi, and has been conducted by H. Robert Reynolds, James Keane, Jerry Junkin, Mallory Thompson, Dennis Fisher, Ed Lisk, and Frank Battisti. Symphonic Winds also combines with Symphony Band to create the Wind Symphony, which provides a large band experience on appropriate repertoire.

Rutgers Symphonic Winds has provided highly artistic and engaging performances in collaboration with numerous internationally acclaimed soloists and composers including Kaoru Hinata, Lish Lyndsey, Kenneth DeCarlo, J. Scott McKenzie, and William Bolcom. Accolades for the Symphonic Winds include a reading session at the Eastern Division College Band Directors National Association Conference (2010) and performances at the New Jersey Music Educators Convention (2011 to 2015).

Symphony Band

Rutgers Symphony Band performs both standard and contemporary literature from the wind-band repertoire, while placing emphasis on the development of technical and musical skills. The group is comprosed of both music and non-music majors and presents at least two concerts each semester. It has performed with guest artists such as the Boston Brass, the Imani Winds, and Joe Alessi, and has been conducted by H. Robert Reynolds, James Keane, Jerry Junkin, Mallory Thompson, Dennis Fisher, Ed Lisk, and Frank Battisti. This ensemble combines with Symphonic Winds to create the Wind Symphony, which provides a large band experience on appropriate repertoire.

Rutgers Symphony Band, comprised largely of students for whose primary discipline is outside music, performed a program on February 27, 2020 of works by a broad spectrum of composers from diverse backgrounds, engaging musical styles that ranged from soul to impressionism. The concert was shared with the John P. Stevens High School Wind Ensemble from Edison, New Jersey. 

Marching Band

Rutgers University Marching Band, “The Pride of New Jersey,” is unity of music and motion. Founded in 1915 as a military drill band, the unit has grown to become a source of pride for the university and the State of New Jersey. The Marching Scarlet Knights take the field for all home football games. The Rutgers Band regularly welcomes new, enthusiastic members, who currently represent over 80 different academic disciplines. Recently, band was invited to perform for former Vice President Joe Biden and on national television at halftime for the NFL’s Monday Night Football.

Concert Band

Rutgers Concert Band is open to non-music majors, rehearses once a week in the spring semester only, and presents at least one concert during the semester. The concert band performs both standard and contemporary literature from the wind-band repertoire. Rutgers Concert Band has been conducted by several distinguished directors, including Jerry Junkin, Mallory Thompson, and Dennis Fisher. The group is conducted by a mixture of the band conductors and wind conducting associates.

Pep Band

The Rutgers Pep Band is the Big Ten band of the Rutgers University Scarlet Knights basketball teams. Students who sign up to be a member of the Pep Band are split into two units that share the responsibility for playing at all home men’s and women’s basketball games, usually nine or 10 men’s and women’s games each during the regular season at the Rutgers Athletic Center. These bands are open to all students. Rutgers students are eligible to register for the one-credit class in the spring semester (07:701:338).

Small Ensembles

Afro-Cuban Ensemble

Bacoustics

Formed in 2013, Bacoustics the Rutgers University undergraduate bassoon ensemble. It is committed to raising “bassoon awareness” within the community and providing educational outreach concerts at schools throughout the State of New Jersey and neighboring New York and Pennsylvania. In the pursuit of expanding the limited repertoire for bassoon ensemble, Bacoustics has commissioned and performed numerous original compositions and arrangements, and was at the forefront of the “Double Reed Flash Mob” at the 2014 International Double Reed Society Conference in New York City.

In 2016, Bacoustics made its international debut at Bassoonapalooza! as part of the Summer Music in Tuscany Chamber Music Festival. They returned in 2017, premiering two new arrangements, Villa-Lobos’ “Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5” with esteemed mezzo-soprano, Angela Niederloh (Portland State University, Oregon), and Weber’s “Andante e Rondo Ungarese” with the eminent Sebastian Stevensson (Principal Bassoon with the Danish National Symphony Orchestra). Bacoustics has performed with the Rutgers Wind Ensemble, Rutgers Wind Symphony, Eastern Wind Symphony, and Rutgers Sinfonia. Bacoustics is under the direction of woodwind faculty member Christopher Wickham, interim advisor of graduate studies at Mason Gross.

Brass Ensemble

The Rutgers Brass Ensemble consists of 15 undergraduate and graduate brass players, placed by audition. The group typically performs works composed and arranged for concert brass settings.

HELIX! New Music Ensemble

HELIX! New Music Ensemble of Rutgers University was founded in 1990 by retired faculty member Paul Hoffmann and is devoted to the presentation of all classical styles of 20th-century music, with an emphasis on music composed since 1950. The instrumentation of the group is typically flute (doubling piccolo and alto flute), clarinet (doubling bass clarinet), violin, cello, piano, and percussion.

Since its inception, HELIX! has premiered many compositions written especially for the group and has performed numerous pieces by major contemporary composers. The group has performed at New York City’s Lincoln Center, the Noyes Museum in New Jersey, and at various colleges on the East Coast.

Percussion Ensemble

The Rutgers Percussion Ensemble focuses on developing chamber music sensitivity in the performance of a wide spectrum of percussion music, including recent avant-garde compositions, standard repertory, popular favorites, and Brazilian and African drumming. The Percussion Ensemble has performed at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall, the Percussive Arts Society International Convention (Indianapolis and Nashville), St. Bartholomew’s Church and Trinity Church on Wall Street, both in New York City, and the Central Jersey Day of Percussion.

The ensemble was a winner of the Percussive Arts Society International Percussion Ensemble Competition and traveled to Nashville, Tennessee, for a showcase concert at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention (PASIC) in 2004, and also performed at the Indianapolis convention in 2013 as a part of the Focus Day series.

Rutgers Baroque Players

Music for chamber orchestra from the 17th and 18th centuries, played on period instruments.

Rutgers Interactive Music Ensemble (RIME)

The RIME performance ensemble incorporates a wide range of musical technologies. RIME performs a variety of repertoire, including fully notated, open, and improvisatory pieces that combine acoustic instruments and electronically generated sound and fully laptop-based performances.

Rutgers Undergraduate New Music Ensemble (RUNME)

RUNME aims to create a context for Mason Gross undergraduate composers to present public performances of new work and contemporary repertoire. RUNME was formed at Rutgers in the spring 2015 as Split the Lark.

 

Robby Ameen
Part-Time Lecturer, Jazz Percussion
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Abraham Burton
Part-Time Lecturer, Jazz Saxophone
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Conrad Herwig
Head of Jazz Studies, Trombone
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Community Arts
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Todd Nichols
Director of University Bands and Athletic Bands
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Bill O'Connell
Part-Time Lecturer, Jazz Piano
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Jonathan Spitz
Head of Strings, Cello
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Community Arts
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Brandon Williams
Assistant Professor, Choral Studies/Music Education
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Kraig Alan Williams
Associate Professor, Conducting
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Rutgers Concert Bureau

Rutgers musicians are available for hire for events both on- and off campus. Available musicians include both classical and jazz performers, soloists, as well as small groups. We accept internal purchase orders (#1683) or personal check. Musicians must be booked two weeks in advance of the event. Subject to musician availability and the type of request.

Contact Concert Bureau staff for more information.