The Music Program at Roger Williams University is small, and the performing ensembles reflect the quality and musical interests of students, as well as the faculty who direct them. The eclectic Instrumental Ensemble incorporates all students who want to play, whether for academic credit or on a club basis. The Chorus performs music from classical to pop and is also open to all as a course or club. Small ensembles, like Collegium and the Treble Makers Jazz Combo have developed from student interests and are supported and coached by faculty. Want to explore the full process of making music rather than just playing your part? The RWU Music Program may be right for you.


The RWU Chorus is the oldest performing group on campus, founded by Bristolian Joan Roth in the 1970s. The group rehearses weekly in the University's Tuesday evening class slot, and is open to all students who wish to sing in it. You can sign up for Chorus as a 1-credit course, or simply join it as a non-credit club for the enjoyment of singing.

The current Chorus director, Jonathan Richter, has been working with the group for years and has already created performance opportunities in many interesting venues-- for the RWU President's Inauguration, at a campus gospel fest, and most recently for a performance of Faure's Requim at St. Mary's church in Bristol, for students to have the opportunity to sing accompanied by the church's beautiful organ.

Chorus can be taken for credit by all RWU students regardless of their major. Three semesters participation in one of the Applied Music programs--Chorus, Instrumental Ensemble, or the Music Lesson program--is required of Music Minors, and Music Majors participate in Chorus or Instrumental Ensemble for 3 semesters, as well as taking 6 semesters of Music Lessons. Why not join the RWU Chorus to experience the artistry and camaraderie, and to discover the exciting world of music performance that singing with the group will open to you.

Catalog Listing:

MUSIC 141 – Chorus
Performing ensemble designed to develop choral singing skills and to perform literature from the Renaissance to the 20th Century. The Chorus is open, without auditions, to the entire University community and to the community at large. Students may register and receive 1 credit per semester: may be repeated. (1 credit) Fall, Spring


The Collegium is a small ensemble created as an off-shoot of the RWU Instrumental Ensemble for members of that group who want to play chamber music in addition to performing in the larger group. Repertoire includes music of the Renaissance, ragtime, and contemporary compositions.The Collegium rehearses weekly, and is directed by Professor Catherine Hawkes, herself a specialist in early music performance.

Instrumental Ensemble 

The ensemble was founded in Spring 2008. Members have included freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors with majors in Accounting, Architecture, Criminal Justice, Education, Engineering, English Literature, Marine Biology, Music, Psychology, and Public Relations; graduate students from the School of Law; faculty from Anthropology, History, Music, Political Science, and Engineering; RWU alumni; and members of the local community. Our concert programs feature a wide variety of musical styles including classical, movie scores, jazz standards, marches, American and European folk music, Brazilian bossa nova and choro, and more. Members of the ensemble help select our repertoire, and the ensemble performs at the end of each semester. See below for a list of some pieces we’ve performed recently. And join us to help plan our repertoire for the coming season.

The ensemble currently rehearses once a week on Monday evenings. Students may register for one credit (Music 151.01) or may just come and play. Music Majors can fulfill their ensemble requirement with this course, and Music Minors can fulfill their applied music requirement. The Instrumental Ensemble is open to the entire campus community. All instruments are welcome.
The ensemble is directed by Assistant Professor of Music Catherine Hawkes, who holds a doctorate from the Indiana University School of Music and has experience working with a wide variety of mixed ensembles. Email Professor Hawkes for more information or to get your name on the list for the first meeting announcement next semester: chawkes@rwu.edu.

Catalog Listing:

MUSIC 151 – Instrumental Ensemble Performing ensemble designed to develop musical skills and appreciation and to perform music in a variety of styles. The ensemble is open to all students, the University community, and the community at large who have had experience playing an instrument and would like to explore our rich musical culture. Registered students receive 1 credit per semester; registration is not required in order to participate. May be repeated. (1 credit) Fall, Spring

Performance Class

Performance Class creates an opportunity for students in the Music Lesson Program to present the pieces they have been working on all semester in a supportive concert situation in the RWU Performing Arts Center. For Music Majors this is a chance to gain experience on stage after their final jury for the semester is over and grades have been assigned. For non-Majors, who take their lessons pass-fail, this concert is a goal to work toward during the semester.

Students taking private lessons for credit can sign up to perform one or two pieces at this end-of-semester event, although Performance Class is not a requirement. The concert isn't advertised to the public as the pieces are still works in progress, but students are encouraged to invite their friends and family members to hear them perform. The hall is usually packed and the audience is always enthusiastic.

The Music Faculty organize and support this popular event, with voice instructors frequently accompanying their students in performance. For students, this is an important step in the transition between playing an assignment for their teachers and performing music for an audience to enjoy. Performance Class has become a popular end-of-the-semester tradition for the Music Lesson Program.

Treble Makers Jazz Combo

The Treblemakers Jazz Ensemble is a small group whose members belong to the RWU Instrumental Ensemble. Treblemakers are musicians who are interested in exploring a different approach to band music, and frequently include improvisation and riff-based styles in their repertoire choices. The group picks their own music, makes their own arrangements, and as an off-shoot of the RWU Instrumental Ensemble still has the benefit of Music faculty oversight and coaching.
The Treblemakers perform at Instrumental Ensemble concerts and other events on campus, and are always looking for new members interested in joining them.