Houghton students playing violins during orchestra performance.

Instrumental Ensembles

Explore God’s incredible gift of music through a tight knit spiritual community.

Student playing flutes and bassoons as part of the wind ensemble.

Wind Ensemble

The Houghton Wind Ensemble is a premiere ensemble performing the highest quality music written for wind and percussion instruments. This ensemble welcomes music and non-music majors and part assignments are done on a rotational basis, so all students get experience on all parts. While maintaining an emphasis on newer music, working with composers from around the country on recent compositions and premieres, the traditional music for wind bands is well-represented.

This ensemble values collaborative musicmaking, stressing the value of each player working closely with one another. Graduate conducting assistants regularly conduct and guest and student soloists are regularly featured.

Directed by Dr. Timothy McGarvey
Professor of Instrumental Music & Conducting, Director of Instrumental Music Activities, Wind Ensemble Conductor

Houghton student playing violin during Prism Concert.

Symphony Orchestra

The Houghton Symphony Orchestra is a flexible performing both new music and standard repertoire for strings, winds, and percussion. The ensemble welcomes both music major and non-majors, as well as community members. While concert programming tends to focus on music of the traditional eras of Western music—works from the Baroque, Classical, Romantic, Post-Romantic, and later 20th Century, their participation in Prism, our annual Christmas production, allows for a variety of styles to be played throughout the course of the year.

Directed by Maestro Theodore Kuchar
Professor of Orchestral Conducting

music student playing trumpet

Jazz Ensemble

Houghton Jazz consists of a standard-sized big band. Play classic jazz styles from the '20s to the present. A backbone of this repertoire is the music that developed out of the swing era and was seasoned by influences such as bebop, cool jazz, and hardbop. More recent styles such as fusion from the 70s and 80s and the diverse forms of Latin jazz are also explored.

You’ll be encouraged to explore the art of improvisation, both in small combos and in order to enrich the big band charts through various features of individual talents.

Directed by Dr. Russell Scarbrough
Assistant Professor of Jazz Studies; Instructor of Trombone; Jazz Band Director

Houghton student playing percussion in the wind ensemble.

Chamber Ensembles

Houghton offers a variety of flexible options for chamber music. Ensembles are formed on a semester-by-semester basis based on student interest, and can include, but are not limited to:

  • Chamber Strings – Mostly trios and quartets from the standard repertoire
  • Chamber Brass – Brass Quintet or chamber ensemble music from the standard repertoire
  • Chamber Winds – Wind Quintets, Octets, or family ensembles (like our saxophone ensemble), performing music from the standard repertoire.

All chamber ensembles are coached by qualified music faculty, while general oversight of the process falls under the purview of Dr. Timothy McGarvey, our Director of Instrumental Activities.

Instrumental Ensemble Auditions

All instrumentalists must complete a short placement audition. All auditions are held in the Instrumental Rehearsal Hall (IRH), unless otherwise noted. In order to reserve an audition slot, please sign up for a time outside of the IRH during the first week of classes.

Complete Audition FormAudition Materials


Please contact the corresponding ensemble director, Dr. Timothy McGarvey or Dr. Russell Scarbrough.