Music Department Ensembles

Our ensembles are open to all students including non-music majors. Music majors are required to participate in at least one large and one small ensemble each semester of study.

Group Playing Guitar

Classical Guitar Ensemble is a nylon-string guitar ensemble that prepares and performs compositions and arrangements for guitar duo, trio, and quartet. Repertoire ranges from Renaissance to contemporary, South American styles, other world music, Gypsy jazz and other jazz arrangements.  Technique is primarily traditional classical finger style, but occasional plectrum use is appropriate. Emphasis will be given to precise execution of parts, sculpting group dynamics and tone colors, learning good practice, rehearsal, and performance habits, and learning how to make a commitment to an ensemble. Each semester ends with a concert performance.

Any student musician who plays a string instrument may sign up for the ensemble. Any string players who are not music majors or minors must schedule a placement audition with the director before the first week of classes.

Instructor: John Mason -

Band On Stage

The Westfield State University Jazz Big Band carries on a tradition that originated during the Swing Era when jazz occupied the forefront of American popular music. Comprised of four sections of instruments including saxophones, trombones, trumpets, and rhythm, the band rehearses and performs a wide variety of musical styles both classic and contemporary, often featuring compositions and arrangements from the libraries of famous and historically important jazz orchestras like Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Benny Goodman, Glen Miller, Stan Kenton, Thad Jones/Mel Lewis, Gordon Goodwin, Charles Mingus and many more. In addition to gaining familiarity with some important musical literature, the Jazz Big Band experience helps participating musicians develop and practice skills necessary to work to variety of professional settings such as Broadway-style pit orchestras, dance bands and show bands.

Ed Orgill, Director -

Scenes From A Play

University Music Theatre Workshop is a performance class focusing on shorter musical works and scenes digging into performance technique and modern and classical music theatre, including opera in solos, scenes and ensembles.  University Musical Theatre Workshop regularly produces One-Act shows, musical reviews and performances for young audiences on campus and in local venues.  This course is designed to be a safe and nurturing environment to develop basic skills in singing and moving onstage, and a course for advanced students to hone advanced performance skills.

Students engage fully in the production process, choosing solos and ensembles, working on staging, building sets and costumes.  Class work also includes monologues, scene work, reading and audition techniques.  Strong music reading skills are an asset but not essential. This ensemble is open to all students, campus-wide.

Dr. Mary Brown-Bonacci -
Lynn Paulella-Beard -

Student Playing Piano

Piano Ensemble is a performing group that explores the world of chamber music.  Pianists taking this course are paired up with other student musicians in a variety of small ensembles including Four-Hand Piano duets, piano trios with contrasting instruments such as violin, cello, trumpet, clarinet, or flute, collaborative work with singers or our major ensembles, and more.  The ensemble performs once during the semester on a concert which showcases a wide variety of musical styles and instrumentation.

Any student musician, pianists, vocalists, and instrumentalists alike may sign up for the ensemble.  Students will be paired up with other students of equal ability and each group will work to prepare a selection of music during the semester.

Instructor: Scott Bailey -

Small Jazz Group

The Small Jazz Ensembles provide opportunities for students to work and perform in groups of 3-6 students. Since the number and instruments change every semester, there is no set format regarding content. The focus is on providing challenging music that will raise the student's performance level while also bringing awareness of their changing individual roles in the ensemble. This necessarily involves them doing some personal musical "editing"  in an improvised setting, in order to serve the desired musical result.

The ensembles are directed by Ted Levine and Jim Argiro.  Jim composes and arranges all of the music with a focus on building a strong group identity; one that works within the boundaries set by the student's skills level while at the same time, encouraging them to display their own unique musical personality.

String Ensemble

The Westfield State University String Ensemble is a performing group that explores the exciting world of chamber music for strings. String players work together twice a week, on music ranging from Vivaldi and Beethoven to Piazzolla and Stravinsky. We perform both in true chamber music fashion with one player on a part as well as in a chamber orchestra formation, depending on the work studied. The ensemble has one formal performance each semester. In addition to the final performance, we seek out opportunities to perform in less formal settings. In the past we have performed in Stanley Park, Clemenzas, and in the campus center. Repertoire suggestions as well as performance venue suggestions are welcomed from members of the group.

Any student musician who plays a string instrument may sign up for the ensemble. Any string players who are not music majors or minors must schedule a placement audition with the director before the first week of classes.

Jessica Foskitt -

Symphony On Stage


The Wind Symphony is a concert band open to all WSU students, regardless of major, through the completion of a placement audition.  Dedicated to the finest in wind instrument literature, the Wind Symphony performs several concerts a year, both on and off campus. This course may be repeated each semester for credit.

Instructor: Dr. Karen LaVoie -