The Department of Music provides numerous performance opportunities through its instrumental and vocal performance ensembles. All ensembles are open by audition to all students within the university, regardless of major.
All music majors are required to participate in one or more of the department's primary ensembles — the Thundering Herd Marching Band and the Wind Ensemble; the Orchestra; and the Chorus or Concert Choir. The secondary ensembles — Jazz Band, Bison Pep Band, String Quartet, Chamber Singers, Belles and Beaux, Good News Singers, and the Homecoming musical — may be required by the terms of your music scholarship contract.
Thundering Herd Marching Band - Wes Parker, director
The Thundering Herd Marching Band provides half-time entertainment for home football crowds and performs in parades and exhibitions. The Thundering Herd is open to all university students regardless of major. Upon completing a required audition in the spring or summer, qualified students are accepted into the group and will be sent a variety of material in the summer including music and necessary information regarding requirements for band camp and the upcoming marching season. The Thundering Herd rehearses every Monday,Wednesday, and Friday from 3:00-5:30 p.m. as well as the morning of each game day from 8:30-9:30 a.m. Membership in the marching band is a prerequisite for participation in the Bison Pep Band.
Wind Ensemble - Mike Chance, director
The Wind Ensemble is chosen based on rigorous auditions held during October each year. The 55-member ensemble offers a premiere musical experience for the advanced musician. The Wind Ensemble tours in Arkansas and neighboring states, and has performed regularly as a featured ensemble at the state music convention. Repertoire includes standard works for band, as well as new works for concert band and wind ensemble, and solo literature. Smaller chamber ensembles such as the percussion ensemble, double reed ensemble, sax quartet, brass quintet, trombone quartet, and others are chosen from the wind ensemble membership. Limited scholarships are available for membership in the Wind Ensemble.
Orchestra - Mike Chance, director
The University/Community Orchestra utilizes university musicians, and local professionals and advanced students in the Searcy Community School of Music who play violin, viola, cello or double bass. The orchestra meets for an extended rehearsal one evening per week in order to accommodate the schedules of its diverse membership. Repertoire includes works for string orchestra and full orchestra from all historical periods, and standard solo concertos and sonatas for orchestral instruments. String auditions are held each spring and during the first week of classes each fall. Limited scholarships are available for string players. Membership in the orchestra is a requisite for performers who are chosen as members of the student string quartet.
Jazz Band - Scott and Cindy Carrell, directors
Jazz Band fall activities include campus and local performances. Spring activities also include occasional trips to nearby cities and five performances at Spring Sing, our annual university musical extravaganza.
The band plays a wide variety of styles, including blues, swing, bop, Latin and Fusion. Improvisation is taught as part of the jazz curriculum and each student is given the opportunity to improvise in rehearsal and performance, and to write arrangements and hear them performed. The band rehearses twice each week on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons throughout the fall and spring semesters.
Audition materials and sign-up sheets are posted during the first week of the fall semester. Auditions in the spring semester occur only if there is a specific need. All university students, regardless of major, are encouraged to audition.
Bison Pep Band - Wes Parker, director
The Bison Pep Band is an ensemble consisting of brass, wind and percussion players that serve as the basketball band for the university. The group performs at men's and women's conference basketball games on campus. Members of the student-directed organization are chosen from experienced members of the Thundering Herd Marching Band during the late fall. Scholarships are awarded to members.
String Quartet - Mike Chance, director
The string quartet is open to qualified members of the orchestra who audition on violin, viola or cello. Members of the quartet receive scholarships. The quartet plays for a variety of events including weddings, banquets, receptions, and civic programs.
Percussion Ensemble - Wes Parker, directorThe percussion ensemble is open to qualified percussionists through an audition. The repertoire includes a variety of works, ranging from the mallet ensembles of Claire Omar Musser to the minimalist works of Steve Reich. The ensemble performs a percussion concert each semester, and was recently featured as part of the Harding University Wind Ensemble tour in the Spring of 2010.
Chorus - Cliff Ganus, director
The Chorus specializes in sacred unaccompanied selections but is not limited to that repertoire. Auditions for new members are held at the beginning of each fall semester. The group rehearses daily.
The Chorus usually makes an extended bus tour each January, and every other summer many of its members participate in chorus campaigns in which the group travels overseas, presenting concerts arranged by local churches and assisting with mission efforts. Stateside trips are funded by the university; for overseas trips (which are conducted under the auspices of the College Church of Christ) students must raise or provide their own funds. The chorus has sung in 43 states and in 28 countries. The group also sings regularly with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra.
The group was formed in 1958 as the Chorale and was renamed in 1988. It has been directed since 1968 by Dr. Cliff Ganus.
Concert Choir - Kelly Neill, director
The 90-member Concert Choir was organized in the fall of 1988. Members are chosen by audition; which take place at the beginning of the fall semester. The majority of members major in something other than music; approximately 30 majors within the university are represented. The group maintains an active concert schedule. Past performances with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra include the Verdi Requiem, Mahler Resurrection Symphony, and Beethoven Ninth Symphony. The Choir also collaborates with the other choral ensembles and the band for joint performances on campus featuring such dignitaries as former President George Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell.
Chamber Singers - Kelly Neill, director
The Chamber Singers, a group of 12 to 16 highly qualified members, typically sing Renaissance and contemporary music. Members may also sing in the Concert Choir or the Chorus. The Chamber Singers rehearse twice a week and give three or four concerts on campus each year. They take occasional trips. The group is under the direction of Dr. Kelly Neill.
Auditions for Chamber Singers are held at the end of the spring semester, the beginning of the fall semester, and other times as needed.
Belles & Beaux - Chuck Hicks, director
Since 1959, Harding's exciting pop group, Belles & Beaux, has performed a wide variety of music ranging from classical to country to rock and everything between. This in-demand instrumental/vocal group maintains a full schedule of performances including trips throughout the nation. Belles & Beaux auditions are open to all students regardless of major. The 15 members receive scholarships. Rehearsals are held on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons from 5:30-7:00. Interested individuals should contact the director. Auditions are held in the spring semester.
Good News Singers - Chuck Hicks, director
Harding's Good News Singers is a popular a cappella group that specializes in close harmony, interesting arrangements, and spiritually uplifting music. The group tours throughout the country and appears at churches, youth rallies, teen nights, and other special programs. Good News Singers is open by audition to all interested singers, regardless of major. The 10 members receive scholarships. The group rehearses on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons from 4:00 to 5:30. Interested individuals should contact the director. Auditions are held in the spring semester.
Belle Canto - Susan Shirel, directorBelle Canto is an all women's choir started in the Fall of 2011. The group of 60 women is made up of music majors and non-majors. Belle Canto performs secular and sacred pieces. At this time, the group performs mostly on campus, but will begin traveling as the group strengthens.
The Department of Music and the College of Communication annually cooperate to present major productions of Broadway musicals. These occur during the university's homecoming week in late October or early November. The cast and crew are composed almost entirely of Harding students. Members of the University Orchestra serve as the pit ensemble for the musical.
Auditions for principal roles are held in the spring; supporting roles are cast in the early fall. Recent productions include Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat, Once Upon a Mattress, Beauty and the Beast, Wizard of Oz, Oklahoma!, Scrooge, and Thoroughly Modern Millie.
Every Easter weekend the university—primarily through the College of Communication and Department of Music—sponsors Spring Sing, an all-student musical revue. Over 1,000 students from more than 20 social clubs and organizations on campus perform for 11,000+ patrons. Hosts and hostesses serve as emcees for the event, backed up by the Ensemble. The Jazz Band serves as the production's featured instrumental ensemble.
Auditions for the Jazz band are held at the beginning of the fall semester. Host and Hostess auditions are typically held in September, while auditions for the Ensemble are held in November.