ISU Choirs

Ensemble

combined choirs and orchestra at Stephens Auditorium.

Masterworks - All four choirs and orchestra

Welcome to the Iowa State Choirs! ISU’s choral program is recognized as one of the finest in the country and your choral experience here will undoubtedly be the highest artistic level of singing in your lifetime -- something to cherish. 

Here’s how we achieve it:  

  • Traditionally 350-400 students sing in the ISU choirs each year. We have a vibrant mix of music majors and non-music majors. In fact, 80% of choristers are NOT music majors.  
  • All singers earn academic credit.  
  • Every student says that singing in an ISU choir is a great break in the day.  And studies show that those who sing actually do better in their other academic classes!
  • Our singers are some of the friendliest people on campus.
  • Our singers work to make our program a “family,” where you’ll be able to make great music and develop friendships that will last a lifetime. 

Overview of ensembles:

We have four large ensembles at ISU. Each choir at Iowa State has its own identity and sings a number of concerts each year.

  • Iowa State Singers – a 72-member select and highly-distinguished mixed ensemble. Rehearsal times: MTWRF 12:10 – 1:00 pm.
  • Cantamus – a select soprano-alto ensemble with a focus on adventurous, contemporary programming. Rehearsal times: MWF 11:00 – 11:50 am.
  • The Iowa Statesmen – one of the largest tenor-bass choirs in the country, renowned their character and active role in the Iowa State community. Rehearsal times: MWF 1:10 – 2:00.
  • Lyrica – our popular soprano-alto ensemble with a focus on compelling choral music from around the world. Rehearsal times: MWF 2:10 – 3:00

You can find detailed information for each ensemble on their web page and learn about the smaller a cappella groups that are drawn from the larger choruses. Below, you’ll find links to some introductory videos and an FAQ with participation and audition information.

Introductory Videos:

How to Join:

General auditions take place in the fall during the four days before classes begin. Start by completing the Choral Interest Form  so that we know of your interest. Then simply sign up for a time by visiting 111 Simon Estes Music Hall (Dr. Rodde’s office) and choosing an available time on the posted sheets (audition information will be posted the week of August 16.). Auditions will take place Thursday, August 19 – Sunday, August 22.  Final rosters will be determined over the first week of classes. 

If you are unable to sign-up for an audition time or posted times are not possible for you, please contact Dr. Rodde (jrodde@iastate.edu) or Dr. Rodgers (rodgersj@iastate.edu) to make other arrangements. Spring auditions are by appointment with these conductors.

Prior to auditioning, sopranos and altos should register for MUS 151A, and tenors and basses, MUS 151B, as their class schedules permit.  If you have an interest in auditioning for the Iowa State Singers (mixed ensemble) attempt to keep the noon hour free in your weekly schedule (M-F).  If you are interested in Lyrica, keep the two o'clock hour free on MWF.

Please Note: You may register for an ensemble prior to auditions, however, your final ensemble placement will be based on your audition and availability, both in the group and in your schedule. All singers – new and returning – will have an audition appointment as we re-establish our ensembles following pandemic restrictions. If you wish to register early, tenors and basses should register for Music 151B and sopranos and altos for Music 151A.

FAQ: 

Q: Do I have I have to be a Music Major to participate in choirs?
  A: No.  In fact, over 80% of our choir members are not music students!

Q: If I am not a Music Major, will I have time for choir?
  A: Yes.  Not only will you be able to make time for choir, studies show that students who sing in a choir actually do better academically.

Q: Do I sing well enough to be a member of an ISU choir?
  A: Virtually everyone who wants to sing in a choir may do so.  

Q: Is choir offered for academic credit?
  A: Yes.  Each choir carries one academic credit per semester.

Q: Where is Simon Estes Music Hall, and where can I find information about choirs?
  
A: Simon Estes Music Hall is located on the north side of Lake LaVerne.  Information can be found on our webpage.

Q: When and where are choir auditions held?
  A:  Fall auditions are held in 111 Simon Estes Music Hall the four days before classes begin. To audition, start by completing the Choral Interest Form. Then simply visit the Choral Bulletin Board outside of 111 Simon Estes Music Hall and sign up for an available time on the posted sheets. Spring auditions are by appointment with the conductors.

Q: What happens in a typical audition?
  A:  Our auditions are low-stress and last about seven minutes.  We’ll sing some brief vocalises and tonal memory exercises. You are encouraged to bring a prepared solo if you have one, but this is not at all required. Finally, a short sight-reading passage may be a part of your audition depending on your goals.

Q: Are there any tours?
  A:  Tours vary from year to year, ranging from local appearances, to singing at major national venues, to international tours.

Q: Do I need to provide my own concert attire?
  A:  No.  The university loans tuxes and dresses to the choir members.

Q: If I have further questions, whom should I contact?
  
A:  Dr. James Rodde, jrodde@iastate.edu.  515-294-0395 or Dr. Jennifer Rodgers, rodgersj@iastate.edu, 515-294-7447.

Q: What happened to the ISU choral program during the 2020-2021 academic year?

A: We adjusted our program to follow the most stringent singing-science recommendations and successfully provided a host of choral experiences for students throughout the pandemic! In small groups and alternative locations, we created critical communities within each ensemble. We worked directly with composers, commissioned new pieces, sang outdoors around the campus and Ames community, recorded a host of diverse literature, and even explored some student-directed choral cinema! As we move out of general restrictions, we are committed to staying current with recommendations for safe singing and making any adjustments to keep our students and faculty comfortable and healthy.

 

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