Vander Cook Sign 1 1
Logo 2022 Light Reduced

VanderCook College of Music

Ensembles

At VanderCook, students participate in a variety of ensembles as part of their education. While full-time students participate in at least one large ensemble each semester, there are many medium and small ensembles that help round out the performance experience.

Ensemble Participation Requirements

All candidates for the Bachelor of Music Education degree must complete the following number of semesters of each ensemble:

  • Band majors must complete seven (7) semesters of Symphonic Band, five (5) semesters of Concert Choir, and two (2) semesters of Philharmonic Orchestra playing a string instrument. 
  • Choral majors must complete seven (7) semesters of Concert Choir, two (2) semesters of Symphonic Band, and two (2) semesters of Philharmonic Orchestra playing a string instrument. 
  • String majors must complete seven (7) semesters of Philharmonic Orchestra, five (5) semesters of Concert Choir, and two (2) semesters of Symphonic Band.

Band and string track candidates must also complete seven (7) semesters of the chamber ensemble specific to their major instrument, and choral track candidates must complete seven (7) semesters of Collegiate Chorale.

Candidates are required to perform in all concerts listed on the syllabus for each ensemble, provided at the beginning of each semester.

All candidates for the Master of Music Education degree must complete two summer sessions of Concert Choir.

Candidates must also complete two summer sessions of the ensemble specific to their track:

  • Band majors must complete two semesters of Symphonic Band. 
  • Choral majors must complete two semesters of Collegiate Chorale. 
  • String majors must complete two semesters of Philharmonic  Orchestra.

If you are interested in performing in Jazz Band, please contact the Dean of Graduate Studies at [email protected]

Candidates are required to perform in all concerts listed on the syllabus for each ensemble, provided at the beginning of each session.

All candidates in the Teacher Certification Entitlement Program (TCEP) must complete two fall or spring semesters of the major ensemble specific to their track.

  • Band majors must complete two semesters of Symphonic Band. 
  • Choral majors must complete two semesters of Concert Choir. 
  • String majors must complete two semesters of Philharmonic Orchestra.

Band and string track candidates must also complete two fall or spring semesters of the chamber ensemble specific to their major instrument, and choral track candidates must complete two fall or spring semesters of Collegiate Chorale.

Candidates are required to perform in all concerts listed on the syllabus for each ensemble, provided at the beginning of each semester.

Ensemble Descriptions

Fall and Spring Semesters

The Symphonic Band performs at the Premier Ensemble Concert, the Prism Concert,  the Student Conductor Concert, and at Undergraduate Commencement, as well as at special events such as “A Night at the Pops.” In addition, the Symphonic Band performs at the annual Midwest Clinic held at McCormick Place in Chicago. Many students perform on secondary instruments to further their proficiency on another instrument. Repertoire ranges from the classics to new works fresh from the publisher. The Symphonic Band is conducted by Professor Alexander Kaminsky.

The Concert Choir performs at the Premier Ensemble Concert, the Prism Concert, the Student Conductor Concert, and at Undergraduate Commencement, as well as at special events such as “A Night at the Pops.” In addition, the Concert Choir performs with the Philharmonic Orchestra at a special concert held at the Nativity of Our Lord Church. This large choral ensemble specializes in singing some of the great works in choral literature. The Concert Choir is conducted by Dr. Robert L. Sinclair.

The Philharmonic Orchestra performs at the Premier Ensemble Concert, the Prism Concert, the Student Conductor Concert, and at Undergraduate Commencement, as well as at special events such as “A Night at the Pops.” In addition, the orchestra performs with the Concert Choir at a special holiday concert held at the Nativity of Our Lord Church each December. The orchestra performs repertoire of many different styles and eras. The orchestra is conducted by our Director of String Music Education, Dr. Yvonne Davila-Cortes.

The Jazz Ensemble performs at all Medium Ensemble Concerts, at the Prism Concert, and at special events throughout the city of Chicago. In addition, the Jazz Ensemble makes an annual appearance at the Elmhurst College Jazz Festival, as well as at special events such as “A Night at the Pops.” The Jazz Ensemble performs music from the big band era as well as newer works. The Jazz Ensemble is directed by Professor Anthony Kidonakis.

The Chorale performs at all Medium Ensemble Concerts, at the Prism Concert, and at a special holiday concert held at the Nativity of Our Lord Church each December. Comprised primarly of vocal majors, the chorale performs literature meant for smaller vocal ensembles without accompaniment. The chorale is conducted by Dr. Robert L. Sinclair.

The Wind Ensemble performs throughout the year and is comprised of primarily band majors on their major instrument, typically with one player on a part. The Wind Ensemble performs advanced wind band literature and is conducted by Professor Alexander Kaminsky.

Percussion Ensemble I is made up of percussion majors, while Percussion Ensemble II is made up of non-majors. Both ensembles perform at all Medium Ensemble Concerts, as well as at special events such as A Night at the Pops. Both percussion ensembles are directed by Dr. James Yakas.

In the fall, Chamber Ensembles work on technical exercises, while in the spring, pieces are prepared for Chamber Ensemble Concerts. These groups include:
  • Flute Ensemble
  • Clarinet Ensemble
  • Saxophone Ensemble
  • String Ensemble
These ensembles are instructed and directed by the corresponding applied lesson teacher.

The Brass Ensembles perform at the Spring Medium Ensemble Concert, as well as at special events such as A Night at the Pops. The Brass Ensembles are made up of all brass majors. Both ensembles are directed by Professor Timothy Riordan.

The Guitar Ensemble performs at all Medium Ensemble Concerts and at Day of Guitar. The Guitar Ensemble is made up of all guitar majors as well as other guitar-proficient students. The Guitar Ensemble is directed by Dr. Julie Goldberg.

Summer Graduate Session

The Symphonic Band performs at a special outdoor concert held at the Clarke House in the South Loop of Chicago as well as at the annual commencement exercises in Orchestra Hall at Symphony Center. Repertoire ranges from the classics to new works fresh from the publisher. The Symphonic Band is conducted by Professor Alexander Kaminsky.

The Concert Choir performs at the Graduate Ensemble Concert during the summer. In addition, the Concert Choir performs at the annual commencement exercises at Orchestra Hall at Symphony Center. As the Concert Choir is made up of almost all of the full time graduate students at VanderCook, the ensemble specializes in singing some of the great works in choral literature. The Concert Choir is conducted by Dr. Robert L. Sinclair.

The Philharmonic Orchestra performs at the Graduate Ensemble Concert during the summer. In addition, the orchestra performs at the annual commencement exercises at Orchestra Hall at Symphony Center. Throughout the summer, the orchestra performs repertoire of many different styles and eras. The orchestra is conducted by Dr. Yvonne Davila-Cortes.

The Jazz Band performs at the Graduate Ensemble Concert during the summer, as well as at a special event at the Clarke House in the South Loop of Chicago. The Jazz Band performs music from the big band era as well as newer works. The Jazz Band is directed by Professor Anthony Kidonakis.

The Collegiate Chorale performs at the Graduate Ensemble Concert during the summer. In addition, the chorale performs at the annual commencement exercises at Orchestra Hall at Symphony Center. The chorale performs literature meant for smaller vocal ensembles without accompaniment. The chorale is conducted by Dr. Lisa Fredenburgh and Dr. David Brunner.

How do I pay for college and when should I apply?

VanderCook College of Music works tirelessly to keep tuition costs lower than other schools, howeever, it can still be difficult to fund your educations. Fortunately, over 90% of our students completing an undergraduate music degree are awarded financial assistance. Work with our financial aid office on a plan that works for you. Ready to begin your journey at VanderCook? Apply now and follow all academic requirements and deadlines to be considered for admission. You can also follow what’s happening by viewing our events calendar.

Student Resources

2021-2022 College Catalog

2021-2022 Student Handbook

Performance Opportunities

You will perform over 20 times a year!

As a member of the Philharmonic Orchestra, Symphonic Band, Concert Choir, String Orchestra, Collegiate Chorale, Percussion Ensemble and Jazz Band, you will perform over 20 times a year on campus and throughout the city of Chicago.

Schedule a Campus Visit or Audition

Contact Admissions at
312.788.1120 or

The Midwest Clinic

VanderCook co-founded The Midwest Clinic: an international band and orchestra conference held in Chicago with more than 18,000 attendees from all 50 states and more than 40 countries.  Throughout the history of The Midwest Clinic, VanderCook is the only college Symphonic Band invited to perform every year.

Chicago at Your Fingertips

Attending VanderCook gives you instant access to many of the city’s most famous and important cultural landmarks, including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Art Institute of Chicago, Navy Pier and the Lyric Opers – all just minutes away from camput by bus, train or bike. All undergraduates receive a Ventra card for unlimited access to CTA trains and buses during the fall and spring semesters.

Play Video
Logo 2022 Light Reduced

The mission of VanderCook College of Music is to enrich the lives of present and future generations by developing uniquely skilled music teachers who exhibit strong character, professionalism, and a commitment to excellence.

© 2022 VanderCook College of Music. All Rights Reserved.
Scroll to Top