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Colleges that have great Choirs, Glee Clubs or Acapella groups

cbrandcbrand Posts: 188Registered User Junior Member
My son goes to a high school that has a tremendous choir program. There are eight choirs that offer everything from Madrigal singing to Jazz acapella. He really enjoys it and he would like to continue singing in college but he won't be majoring in Voice or Theater.

So... what universities offer a wide variety of serious and rigorous "club" choir opportunities? He is open to small liberal arts schools as well as large state schools, though he is looking specifically at the following schools:
USC
NYU
Northwestern
Ithaca
Bard
Wesleyan
Post edited by cbrand on
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Replies to: Colleges that have great Choirs, Glee Clubs or Acapella groups

  • Luckie StarchildLuckie Starchild Posts: 329Registered User Member
    Haverford... they're really into acapella there.
  • minimini Posts: 26,431Registered User Senior Member
    St. Olaf's has by far the largest vocal music scene of any LAC. It isn't close. Seven large choirs. More than a dozen a capella and others. One-third of the student body involved in music. More international touring than any other LAC. Comparing St. Olaf's vocal music scene to any other LAC is like comparing the Yankees with a good single A minor league team.
  • palmalkpalmalk Posts: 298Registered User Junior Member
    WashU has a tremendous number of a capella groups. I went to a concert for parents weekend which featured at least 10 different (and awesome) groups - some are themed, some all male, all female, coed, etc. See Washington University's Stereotypes for a list and links to some of the groups
  • itsasmallworlditsasmallworld Posts: 370Registered User Member
    I second the suggestion of St. Olaf. That's where collegiate choral singing supposedly originated. The choirs are top-notch and if I remember correctly, Anton Armstrong is the conductor. Anton Armstrong!!! (sorry, that needed underscoring)

    Another top choral school is BYU, though it is largely Mormon. They recorded a CD with Eric Whitacre a while back.

    As for a cappella groups, it seems almost every school has a plethora of those. You won't go wrong with most places. Check out performances on YouTube; there are a lot of ensembles strutting their stuff.

    Notable groups that I like include All-Night Yahtzee at FSU, a group at Penn (can't remember the name, sorry), the UC Men's Octet at Berkeley, Ithacappella (Ithaca College). Last year I believe a group from USC won the intercollegiate a cappella championship.

    But really, you almost can't go wrong if you're looking for just a cappella.
  • SkieSkie Posts: 497Registered User Member
    I can't speak to the club opportunities, but of the schools you've listed, USC, Northwestern and Ithaca have by far the best choral programs, really excellent ones. NYU and Bard have almost nothing going on chorally; Wesleyan has a great Colleggium, but that's about it.

    I agree that St. Olaf's is terrific and Haverford is very good for a LAC. Lehigh, BC and BU have strong programs, Brandeis and Amherst are decent, WashU has a good reputation. In general, the large state schools have the most going on, both in their Music Department choral offerings and student-run a cappella groups.
  • minimini Posts: 26,431Registered User Senior Member
    There will be about 5-6 singers at St. Olaf's for every one at Haverford, and the ratio to Wesleyan will be only slightly less.
  • HannaHanna Posts: 11,489Registered User Senior Member
    IMHO, of the schools you listed, USC and Northwestern have the best quality student-run a cappella groups. (Faculty-directed choral groups are an entirely different animal.)

    I'll be judging a Midwest quarterfinal of the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella in Champaign this weekend. I'm looking forward to hearing some of the groups for the first time.

    "where collegiate choral singing supposedly originated"

    St. Olaf College was founded in 1874; the Harvard Glee Club, in 1858. This doesn't take anything away from the tremendous choral tradition at St. Olaf, which is universally recognized and respected.
  • cbrandcbrand Posts: 188Registered User Junior Member
    Thanks to everyone who has replied. As the OP, perhaps my question should have been....

    What types of singing opportunities are available at universities for students who are not majoring in performance? Clearly there are student run groups and faculty groups. If faculty run, are the choruses and choirs extracurricular?
  • SkieSkie Posts: 497Registered User Member
    Every school is different, though each one is likely to have at least one choral ensemble for non-music majors. Some schools will have several or many options.

    Choral music for credit vs extracurricular also depends on the school. Some offer no credit, some offer the equivalent of full course credit, others something in between. Most faculty-run ensembles offer at least one credit these days.

    You have to take a look at the website of each school you're considering. Look under Academics and then go to Music. You'll see what choirs the Music Department offers to majors and non-majors and how many credits a student earns by participating.
  • violadadvioladad Posts: 6,641Registered User Senior Member
    Vocal and instrumental opportunities vary widely by institution, and range from audition based talent/ability tiered performance ensembles to groups of varying ability open to students, faculty/staff, and in some cases local community general population.

    Most large institutions with music schools or departments limit participation in the "top" performance groups to music degree candidates in general, or performance majors in particular. Smaller schools and programs may be a bit more flexible in allowing the interested and talented non music major to participate in the main performance organization, with criteria based on specific instrumental or vocal need of the organization.

    In general, you can find participatory activity at most colleges, but the options and parameters (as well as ability/peer quality) will vary widely by institution. There is no general rule here.

    The details for each school can usually be found within the music school or department's webpages.

    Another alternative can be participation in local or faith based choruses and ensembles, where the quality and ability can surpass what is offered within a small (or non-existent) music program.
  • HannaHanna Posts: 11,489Registered User Senior Member
    cbrand, all the Ivies and their peers that get a lot of play on CC will have singing opportunities for non-music majors. You do have to investigate them school by school, but that shouldn't be hard. Any respectable group, whether faculty or student directed, will have a web page with information about repertoire and auditions, and often with tour itineraries, photos and sound clips as well. You can get a pretty good idea about the groups on that basis.
  • CayugaRed2005CayugaRed2005 Posts: 4,041Registered User Senior Member
  • cbrandcbrand Posts: 188Registered User Junior Member
    Excellent advice everyone. Thank you. It was very helpful to look at the different music department web pages. People reading this thread may know this stuff in and out, but in case any other neophytes are reading this, here are some of the things I found.

    Some universities were very clear about who could participate in what. Example:

    Northwestern...
    Ensembles For Qualified Students from all Schools
    University Chorale
    University Singers
    University Chorus
    Chapel Choir
    University Women’s Chorus
    (No men's glee club? No info on a capella, though Wikipedia shows they have 10 groups.)

    Some were not so clear...
    Ithaca College...
    Well I can see that under student groups they have men's and women's a capella and two music fraternities (Music frats???) so those must be open to all. Under the music department they list:
    choir
    chorus
    madrigals
    women's choral
    but it is unclear if those are for music majors only. I see that I'll have to send out some emails.

    Finally, University of Southern California....
    Their web site lacks clear information about groups that are open to non-music majors. They have a link to a page about "classes" that are open to non-music majors but not ensembles (learning that word has been helpful). So I picked up the phone and called. Very snooty. Apparently at USC you'll need to be able to walk on water when you sing <grin>. Anyway I did find out that the following ensembles are open to all male students regardless of major:
    Men's Chorus
    Chamber Choir
    Concert Choir
    Thanks to Wikipedia, I also found out that USC has 7 a capella groups. It is frustrating, though, that I could not find that information on the USC web site.
  • violadadvioladad Posts: 6,641Registered User Senior Member
    ^ If you can't find student run or non credit ensemble info, I would check the current student/student life/clubs and campus organizations webpages and links of each college.

    They may well have their own webpages or contact info, and could not be featured under the music department web page.
  • ilovebagelsilovebagels Posts: 3,499Registered User Senior Member
    Yale and Penn. Boom.
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