Although the U of C doesn’t have a conservatory, it offers something for everyone interested in pursuing music. The music department is home to 14 different ensembles, spanning musical genres from orchestral to jazz to Javanese Gamelon (a traditional Indonesian performance group whose instruments sound something like falling rainwater). Anyone who successfully completes the audition process can participate in any of the ensembles.
If the Smith Westerns sound more enticing to you than Sibelius, you might be interested in joining WHPK, the campus radio station. DJs come from the student body, the surrounding community, and even a few from other areas of the city. Besides broadcasting music 24 hours a day, the station hosts a show called Pure Hype with live musicians from Chicago every Friday night from 7-9 p.m. Tune in at 88.5 FM or apply for your own show by visiting whpk.org. The station also hosts an annual concert on campus called WHPK Summer Breeze, which occurs alongside the annual Summer Breeze concert hosted by the Major Activities Board (MAB).
MAB brings big name bands and performers to campus every autumn and spring quarter at the fall show and Summer Breeze Concert. With help from the University, they guarantee affordable ticket prices, too. Recent acts include Crystal Castles, Big Boi and Kid Sister, and Nas with Damian Marley. Any student can get involved by e-mailing suggestions of what groups they would like to see on campus to board members. To learn about joining the board, visit mab1.uchicago.edu. You could end up meeting a favorite performer—last year, a MAB board member scored the Maroon an interview with comedian Donald Glover.
The University has also inspired the creation of several student bands now enjoying success throughout the city. If you’re interested in seeing current or former students perform off campus, check out Squat the Condos or Lakesigns, both of which have performed at classic Chicago venues like the Empty Bottle and Subterranean. Grab Squat the Condos’ recent EP, We Should Be Together at squatthecondos.bandcamp.com and Lakesigns album Good Person at myspace.com/lakesigns.
If singing under arches and bouncing along to perfectly choreographed movement is more your thing, a cappella might be what you’re looking for. If you’re interested in joining one, the University is home to seven groups, which are listed on the right.