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Ensemble Auditions

Academics / Departments & Programs / Music / Events / Ensemble Auditions

Welcome to the music program at Calvin! If you are an incoming student (first-year or transfer student) and are interested in performing with one of Calvin's music ensembles, you will want to make sure to register for ensemble auditions that take place each fall.

Auditions for bands, orchestra, and choirs will take place in late August, prior to the start of the fall semester. You will receive correspondence from the music program regarding ensemble auditions before you arrive on campus so make sure you check you check your email often.

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Please note that auditions for bands, orchestra, and choirs take place on campus in September.

Choirs at Calvin

To audition for Campus Choir, Capella, Oratorio Society, or Women's Chorale please prepare a verse (melody line) from one of the following hymns (memorization NOT required):

Please bring two copies of the hymn along to your audition (one for you and one for the professor).

The audition will consist of:

  • Vocalizations
  • Sight reading
  • Tonal memory
  • Prepared hymn verse (memorization NOT required)

Please note the following:

  • You will not need an accompanist.
  • If you have indicated an interest in voice lessons, this audition will also serve as your placement for a voice teacher.
  • Choral audition forms will be available when you check in for your audition.

To audition for Gospel Choir, please contact the director, Nate Glasper, Jr. about meeting him for a vocal assessment.

Bands at Calvin

Welcome to the bands at Calvin! The formal audition for Jazz Band, Pep Band, Symphonic Band, or Wind Ensemble will take place in September when you arrive on campus for the fall semester.

If you would like additional information about the bands at Calvin, please contact Dr. Tiffany Engle at or (616) 526-6304.

Orchestra at Calvin

Welcome to the Calvin Orchestra! The formal audition for the orchestra program will take place in August when you arrive on campus for the fall semester. If you would like additional information about Calvin Orchestra, please visit the Orchestra page or contact Dr. Tiffany Engle at or (616) 526-6304.

How can I participate in a Band, Orchestra, and/or Choir this fall?

If you noted an interest in performing with one of Calvin’s ensembles on your PASSPORT orientation form, the music department will pre-register you for either Symphonic Band, Orchestra, or Campus Choir—whichever is appropriate for your area of interest. This registration will act as a place holder in your fall schedule. Before the start of the fall semester, auditions will be held for placement in all of the music department ensembles.

Are there auditions for the music ensembles at Calvin?

Yes, there are auditions for all of the music ensembles (Symphonic Band, Wind Ensemble, Orchestra, Capella, Women’s Chorale, Campus Choir, Gospel Choir, and Oratorio). If you have noted your interest in one of Calvin’s performance ensembles on your PASSPORT orientation form, the music department will pre-register you for either Symphonic Band, Orchestra, or Campus Choir—whichever is appropriate for your area of interest. If you have not had a chance to get pre-registered, there will be plenty of time during the first week of class to audition and add the ensemble to your schedule. Auditions for Jazz Band are arranged seperately.

Auditions for Jazz Band are arranged separately.

Will I be able to select the ensemble I’m in?

The audition process will determine the most appropriate ensemble for you based on your ability, skill level, and musicianship. On some occasions vocalists will be granted permission into more than one choir. When this occurs, students can determine which choir(s) they desire to sing in and which ones work well for their schedule.

What is included in the audition process?

The audition process for each area is unique. The ensemble directors will contact you via email in August to inform you of the requirements of your auditions.

How do I sign up for an audition time?

CHOIR: You will be notified that audition dates and times are available and will sign up for a choral audition time through Sign-up Genius. This link will be made available to you in August, and you will be notified by email.
BAND/ORCHESTRA: Audition times are handled by the director and arranged via email in August.

Where will auditions take place?

CHOIR: Auditions take place in the lower level of the Covenant Fine Arts Center in the practice suite hallway. You will be assigned a designated room number once your audition date and time have been selected.
BAND/ORCHESTRA: Auditions take place in the lower level of the Covenant Fine Arts Center in the practice suite hallway. You will be assigned a designated room number once your audition date and time have been selected.

Who will hear my audition?

CHOIR: Choir auditions are heard by the Choral and Vocal faculty of the Calvin music department. Students interested in Campus Choir, Capella, Women’s Chorale, and Oratorio will be heard by Professor Pearl Shangkuan. Gospel Choir will be heard by Professor Nate Glasper.
BAND/ORCHESTRA: Students who play wind, brass, string, and percussion instruments will have their audition heard by professors Tiffany Engle and Patricia Wunder.

Which ensemble should I choose?

Calvin has nine student ensembles: two concert bands, jazz band, a symphony orchestra, and five choirs. Please check out the Ensembles webpage for more information about participation in each of these groups.

Can I participate in more than one ensemble?

Many Calvin students participate in two or more ensembles each semester and, in spite of the time requirement, consider ensemble participation recreative (and a good stress-reliever!) and not a burden to their other coursework. However, please think carefully about how much time you would like to dedicate to ensemble rehearsals each week and plan your schedule accordingly. If you have questions or need advice on picking an ensemble, please contact the Music Office.

Do I have to audition for admission to the music program?

The music department does not require a music major audition prior to admission to Calvin. Permission to major in music is usually granted at the end of the first year based on a list of requirements.

What music degrees do you offer?

Calvin offers a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in music with an optional performance or composition concentration.

Can I participate in ensembles without being a music major?

Whether you plan to major in music or biochemistry, Calvin offers plenty of opportunities to sing or play together with other musicians. All Calvin students may participate in an ensemble or take private lessons.

What can I do with a music major from Calvin?

Alumni of the Calvin music department have gone on to do a variety of things in music including further study in graduate school, teaching music, playing in the Grand Rapids Symphony, playing in a bluegrass band, and much more!

Where do music majors go for graduate school?

Calvin music program alumni have gone on to study in prestigious music schools such as the University of Michigan, Ohio State University, Westminster Choir College, Western Michigan University, and Yale.

Do you offer music scholarships?

Calvin offers scholarships for piano, organ, strings, voice, winds, and percussion. There are also many scholarships available (for returning students) in music in worship, composition, music theater, and education. Auditions for first-year scholarships are held in February. Visit our Scholarships page for more information.

What kind of music facilities does Calvin have?

Calvin's Covenant Fine Arts Center houses well-equipped music classrooms, rehearsal halls (instrumental and choral), teaching studios, practice rooms, a state-of-the-art music technology lab and the acoustically outstanding auditorium. Available to students and faculty are one Bosendorfer and five Steinway grand pianos, 21 practice rooms, two harpsichords, six pipe organs, and a valuable collection of string, wind, percussion, and early music instruments. In addition, Calvin's large chamber music library and the Hekman Library, with its large music divisions and the Cayvan Recorded Media Center, provide valuable resources for both students and faculty.

Do you have chamber music opportunities?

Calvin has a variety of chamber music opportunities for string, piano, wind, and vocal students. These include string quartets, Collegium Musicum (early music ensemble), Chamber Winds, and more.

What musical opportunities are there in Grand Rapids?

There are a variety of musical opportunities in the Grand Rapids area. Calvin students are involved in worship services at area churches, they teach private lessons, and perform for weddings or special events. In addition, West Michigan has a vital musical community with organizations such as the Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, Opera Grand Rapids, Bach Chorale, West Shore Symphony Orchestra, and the Grand Rapids Symphonic Band.

May I take trial lessons from faculty members?

We would be happy to set up a trial lesson for you with one of our applied music faculty. Please contact the music program to schedule a lesson.

When I come to visit Calvin, may I observe music classes and ensembles?

As part of the Fridays at Calvin program, you will have the opportunity to visit a variety of different classes as well as some of the music ensembles. Observations can also be arranged at other times. Please contact the Music Office or the Admissions Office for more information.

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