About the Department
The Major in Music
The Minor in Music
The Five College Certificate in Ethnomusicology
Performance Ensembles
Internships & Prizes
Forms & Resources
Visiting Composer
Performance Calendar

Student Instrumental Ensembles


The Smith Orchestra is conducted by Jonathan Hirsh and is open by audition to students with prior instrumental training. It rehearses one evening per week, with extra rehearsals and sectionals as needed to prepare for performances. The ensemble performs the classics of the orchestral repertoire, including key pieces from the Classical and Romantic periods, as well as 20th–century works, some composed by Smith faculty and staff. The orchestra performs several times each year, both in concerts featuring exclusively orchestral repertoire and in those where the orchestra combines forces with the Glee Club or other campus ensembles to explore works such as Orff's Carmina Burana and Beethoven's Ninth Symphony.

For more information about the Smith Orchestra, please contact the group's conductor, Jonathan Hirsh, at jhirsh@smith.edu.

Jazz Ensemble

The Smith Jazz Ensemble rehearses once a week for two hours and plays music designed to teach jazz ensemble concepts (phrasing, articulation, swing feel) as well as give improvised solo space for all members. Though favoring the typical "Big Band" instrumentation (including vocalist), other instruments are welcome on an "as–needed" basis. Performing a minimum of four times each academic year, the group counts tunes as done by Basie, Ellington, and Sinatra plus more contemporary tunes among its repertoire. The group accepts members with all levels of prior jazz training. The Smith Jazz Ensemble is directed by Genevieve Rose.

Chamber Music

Playing in small ensembles allows for intimate music-making while exploring great works from the repertory. Groups, formed ad hoc or in consultation with faculty, may be eligible to register each semester for weekly coachings (1 credit). In recent years works from Bach to Brahms to Reich have been explored. Preference is given to students studying instruments or voice at Smith.

For more information on playing in chamber music ensembles, please contact Joel Pitchon.

Wind Ensemble

Rehearsing once a week for one and a half hours, this ensemble provides Smith students with the chance to explore the standard (and less-standard) wind ensemble repertoire. Recent performances have included music of Bernstein, P.D.Q. Bach, Holst, Grainger, Danny Elfman, and Sousa. Instrumentalists of all abilities are welcome, as are students from the Five-College community. No audition is required. The Smith Wind Ensemble is directed by Ellen Redman and presents two main concerts per year and additional appearances around campus.

Wailing Banshees

Started in 2005, the Wailing Banshees are Smith's Irish/Celtic music ensemble. The group is made up largely of fiddles, flutes, whistles and even bagpipes, with a rhythm section that can consist of guitar, bodhran, mandolin and even cello! The Banshees rehearse 2 hours per week and give two full concerts per year, and are often in demand at various events on and off campus. Their music is largely Scottish and Irish but includes all the Celtic lands and ranges in style from more modern arrangements, to sean nos and ceili band. The ensemble is open to all Five-College students with permission of the director, Ellen Redman.

Smith Gamelan

The Smith Gamelan is a performance group dedicated to the study of Central Javanese gamelan, one of the great musical traditions of Indonesia. The group was founded in 1995 as a way to introduce Five College students to this unique musical tradition and it is directed by Margaret Sarkissian, professor of music, and Sumarsam, a master of the Javanese music tradition and adjunct professor of music at Wesleyan University. The group meets once a week during the school year and presents a performance at the end of each semester.

Membership in the Smith Gamelan is open to students, staff, and faculty of the Five College community. Questions can be directed to Professor Margaret Sarkissian at msarkiss@smith.edu.