The ensembles at Washburn University are among the finest in the region, featuring talented musicians and singers who are passionate about their craft.

marching band leader in front of band outdoors

Marching Band Activities

The Washburn University Marching Band performs for athletic events, parades, and more. Learn more about the marching band

orchestra performing

Orchestral Activities

The Washburn University Orchestra is dedicated to the quality performance of the standard orchestral repertoire and to the professional and artistic growth of its members. The Washburn University Orchestra has an extensive performance schedule on and off campus, annually presenting at least four concerts of the symphonic literature, as well as other venues such as the Solo Aria & Concerto Competition concert, new music readings and joint collaborations with the Washburn University Choir.

String Orchestra
The Washburn Chamber Orchestra at Washburn University performs a wide variety of literature for strings alone. It performs often both on and off-campus.

For additional information on orchestra at Washburn University, email

student using wind instrument

Wind Ensemble Activities

The Washburn University Wind Ensemble enjoys a reputation for excellence. By audition, the wind ensemble has twice represented the State of Kansas at the College Band Directors National Association Southwestern Conference and has regularly appeared at the KMEA Music Educators Convention since 1986.

The Wind Ensemble not only focuses on time-honored masterworks but has also earned a reputation throughout the Midwest for innovative programming and the presentation of new literature for the wind band medium. The Wind Ensemble has given premieres of works by composers Libby Larsen, Timothy Mahr, Frank Mantooth, and Darren Jenkins.

For more information about the wind ensemble, email

student at piano smiling

University Band Activities

The Washburn University Band provides opportunities for students, alumni, and music teachers to brush up on band rehearsal techniques, skills, and performance. Music teachers may choose to enroll at the graduate level for upper division re-certification credit. The music selection ranges from traditional Sousa marches to the latest experimental forms of musical expression. The University Band provides a unique opportunity for students to increase their ensemble listening and performing skills in a supportive atmosphere. Membership in the organization is open and no audition is required.

For more information about joining the University Band, email

students singing in vocal class

Vocal Activities

The Washburn Choir and the Washburn Singers, under the direction of Lawrence Abernathy, are the Department of Music's two premiere choral ensembles. Both present a number of concerts each year on campus and at various locations across the state of Kansas and throughout the the Midwest. As a part of the capital city community, Washburn Choirs are also invited to sing for a variety of civic and governmental functions. Over the years they have performed for many distinguished state and national dignitaries. In addition, the Washburn Singers were invited to perform at the 2010 Kansas Music Educators convention in Wichita and the Washburn Choir performed during the 1997 KMEA keynote concert where they received a standing ovation.

Members of both ensembles also have toured internationally. In 1995, they performed in Great Britain (Birmingham and London) and traveled throughout Germany and Austria in 1998. In 2007, the choirs performed throughout South Africa.

Washburn choirs are known for their high level of musical accomplishment. Rehearsals are fast-paced and energetic, with much attention given to the details that insure excellence in performance. Singing at Washburn University is a good way for students to get acquainted with each other and to be a part of a very rewarding aesthetic experience. All students are encouraged to take part in this unique and exciting opportunity.

For more information about the Washburn Choir and Washburn Singers, email Lawrence Abernathy at

flautist playing flute

Flute Activities

The flute ensemble is dedicated to encouraging and supporting flute-related activities, as well as encouraging an appreciation for flute music through performances.

For more information, contact Rebecca Meador at

student drumming

Percussion Activities

The Percussion Ensemble is really a percussion “orchestra,” and is an integral part of the percussion studies program at Washburn University. All percussion majors are required to enroll in percussion ensemble. The ensemble performs a wide variety of music, including standard works in the repertoire along with new music for the percussion orchestra. Chosen works may include both pitched and non-pitched instruments. It is here that percussion students receive their true chamber music experience, with each member playing an individual part and providing an individual contribution to the overall composition.

The ensemble plays several concerts each year, including a very popular Holiday Concert during the Christmas season. The ensemble has performed numerous times at the Kansas Music Educators Convention, as well as at the Oklahoma Day of Percussion, and in other concert settings at Washburn University. They continue to maintain the highest standard of excellence and musicality.

For information about the percussion ensemble, email Von Hanson,

music student playing clarinet

Clarinet Activities

The Clarinet Ensemble is a branch of the Washburn University Clarinet Association (WUCA), an organization that includes clarinet outreach and chamber music performances. Clarinet music majors and minors participate in this ensemble to study, learn, and perform clarinet chamber music including duos, trios, quartets, and clarinet choir. The Clarinet Ensemble is available for performances through the Washburn University Clarinet Association (WUCA).

For information on the clarinet ensemble, email Larkin Sanders,

student playing cello

Cello Activities

The Washburn University Cello Ensemble is comprised of music performance, music education and non-music majors. The ensemble rehearses and performs cello ensemble music that varies from classical to contemporary in style. Students learn more about performance technique, musicality and have opportunities to perform at local and regional concerts and events. 

The ensemble meets on a weekly basis at Garvey Fine Arts building at Washburn University. Several performance opportunities occur throughout the year. In the Fall semester, the WU cello ensemble collaborates with the Topeka Cello Collective (a community of student cello players under the direction of Erinn Renyer) and performs in an annual Cello Collective concert presented at White Concert Hall on Washburn University campus. In February, the WU cello ensemble hosts an I "Heart" Cello Day, a performance clinic that invites students from throughout Northeast Kansas to participate. In the Spring, there are several community outreach performances at various venues including regional schools, the Topeka Shawnee County Library and retirement communities. In May, the WU cello ensemble collaborates once again with the TCC with "Cello on the Quad" outdoor picnic concert on the Washburn University campus.

For more information about the Cello Ensemble, contact Erinn Renyer at

students playing brass instuments

Jazz Activities

Washburn Jazz Orchestra

The Washburn Jazz Orchestra is recognized as one of the premier jazz ensembles in the country. The ensemble has been acknowledged for its musicality and technical precision from a number of highly recognized jazz educators and artists. The ensemble performs a wide variety of literature from early jazz to modern contemporary styles.

Washburn Concert Jazz Orchestra

The Washburn Concert Jazz Orchestra is for majors and non-majors interested in continuing their study in jazz. The group meets on a regular basis performing standard jazz ensemble literature. The group is auditioned for chair placement only.


Jazzocracy is Washburn University’s premier jazz combo performing literature of highly recognized jazz artists and original compositions.  The group averages 30 performances each year including jazz festivals, university performances, and at corporate and community events. Scholarships are available.

The Jazz Colonists

The Jazz Colonist is an beginning/intermediate level jazz combo. Students of all instrumentation are welcome to study and learn jazz improvisation in a small group setting. Students wanting to participate in this group must have a basic knowledge of all major and minor scales. 

For additional information on jazz ensembles, contact Craig Treinen at

students performing in opera

Opera Activities

The Washburn Opera Studio focuses on developing the tools of the singer actor. It is a vibrant and growing program that explores the world of opera and other forms of music theatre.  

Performance repertoire is carefully chosen and based upon the students' needs. This ensemble offers the student regular performance opportunities, specifically in a workshop setting during the fall semester and in a fully-mounted stage production each spring. The spring production is performed with members of the Washburn Symphony Orchestra under the direction of conductor Dr. Martha Placeres. This gives singers the very important experience of working with a conductor in a fully staged production. Auditions for the spring production are held during the fall semester. The Opera Studio also performs outreach and offers touring performances.

For additional information on Opera Studio, contact the Music Department Chair, Craig Treinen at

two students playing piano

Piano Activities

In addition to solo work, all keyboard students participate in collaborative piano work, which means working in semester-long partnerships with instrumental or vocal partners. The collaborative piano course helps our keyboard students improve their sight-reading skills and further prepares them for successful performing positions in the field of music. Keyboard students also collaborate with one another in various piano ensembles, namely four-hands piano duet and piano duo. Participation in small ensembles and chamber music groups is also an essential part of the keyboard performance curriculum. Some of our students have the opportunity to rehearse and perform with orchestra and wind ensemble as a member of the large ensemble. For those who are experienced or interested in jazz, there are opportunities to play piano in various jazz ensembles. Additionally, keyboard students are encouraged to participate in one of the Choral Ensembles at Washburn University. 


Music Program
Garvey Fine Arts Center, Room 211
Washburn University
1700 SW College Ave.
Topeka, KS 66621

Phone & Email
Phone: 785.670.1511

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