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.
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 through rigorous auditions held each year. The 55-member ensemble offers a premiere musical experience for the advanced musician. The Wind Ensemble tours periodically in Arkansas and neighboring states, and has performed on multiple occasions as a featured ensemble at the state music convention. Repertoire includes standard works for band, new works for concert band and wind ensemble, and solo literature. Wind and percussion personnel for the full orchestra are chosen from the group, as well as personnel for the percussion ensemble, woodwind ensemble, sax quartet, brass choir, trombone quartet, and various specialty ensembles. Limited participation scholarships are available for membership in the Wind Ensemble.
Orchestra - Mike Chance, director
The University/Community Orchestra utilizes university musicians, local professionals, and advanced students in the Searcy Community School of Music.
Repertoire includes works for string orchestra and full orchestra from all historical periods, and standard solo concertos and sonatas for orchestral instruments. An extended rehearsal meets Monday evenings and then a following rehearsal meets on Wednesday afternoons.
Auditions are Held each spring and during the first week of classes each fall. Limited scholarships are available for string players.
Jazz Band - Andrew Cook, director
Jazz Band fall activities include campus and local performances. Spring activities also include occasional trips to nearby cities and 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.
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.
Basketball Pep Band - Wes Parker, director
The Bison Pep Band is an ensemble consisting of brass, wind, and percussion players that perform at men's and women's conference basketball games on campus. Members of the organization are chosen from experienced members of the Thundering Herd Marching Band during the late fall. Scholarships are awarded to members.
String Quartet - Alicia Walls, 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. In addition to performing on campus, the quartet sometimes plays for festive, social, and civic events.
Percussion Ensemble - Wes Parker, director
The 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 concert each semester.
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 students must raise or provide their own funds. The chorus has sung in 43 states and in 34 countries. The group also sings regularly with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra.
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.
Chamber Singers - Kelly Neill, director
The Chamber Singers, a group of 12 to 20 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, give three or four concerts on campus each year, and take occasional trips.
Auditions for Chamber Singers are held 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 popular instrumental/vocal group maintains a full schedule of performances including trips throughout the nation. Belles & Beaux auditions are held in the spring semester and are open to all students regardless of major. The 15 members receive scholarships. Rehearsals are held on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons from 5:30 to 7:00.
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. Auditions are held in the spring and are open 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.
Belle Canto - Susan E. Shirel, director
Belle Canto is a group of 60 women made up of music majors and non-majors. Belle Canto performs secular and sacred pieces. Auditions for new members are held at the beginning of each fall semester. The group rehearses twice a week.
The Department of Music and the College of Communication annually cooperate to present major productions of Broadway musicals. The cast and crew are composed almost entirely of Harding students. Auditions for principal roles are held in the spring; supporting roles are cast in the early fall. Recent productions include Singin' in the Rain, Annie Get Your Gun, Shrek, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat, Pirates of Penzance, and Oklahoma!
Every Easter weekend the university sponsors Spring Sing, an all-student musical revue. Over 1,000 students from more than 20 social clubs and organizations perform for 11,000+ patrons.