Ensemble participation is an important part of the student life at USAO. All ensembles are open to music majors, minors, and the general student population. Students may participate in Concert Choir, Concert Band, USAO Showband, USAO Key Players or the USAO Vocal Jazz Ensemble. Periodically, additional ensembles such as Opera Scenes, Music Theatre, Madrigal Singers, or Chamber Music are offered. Each trimester the performing ensembles present at least one major concert and may also perform for campus events, community events, or area schools. All of the ensembles perform regularly for the interdisciplinary Festival of Arts and Ideas Series. All music majors must perform in a major ensemble each semester enrolled in the music program. Concert Choir and Concert Band are the major ensembles for vocalists, and instrumentalists respectively.
Concert Choir is the principal choral performing ensemble at USAO. This 40-50 voice ensemble presents one major concert each trimester and has also performed for civic clubs and events. The ensemble is under the direction of Dr. Jan Hanson. Deborah Johnson, adjunct in music, serves as accompanist for the group.
Concert Band is the principal instrumental ensemble at USAO. This ensemble performs a variety of literature ranging from classical to contemporary. Though previous instrumental experience is expected for enrollment, no audition is required for Concert Band. The group is directed by Dr. Dan Hanson.
The USAO Showband is a group of 12-15 performers under the direction of Mr. Joe Settlemires. This group performs at schools and civic events each trimester. They perform a wide range of repertoire, but excel in jazz, showtunes and pop music. The Show Band is comprised of brass, saxophones, drum set, guitar, bass and singers. In the spring of 2007 the group traveled to Nashville to record a CD. An audition is required for Showband.
The USAO Key Players is a unique performing ensemble, comprised primarily of keyboard synthesizer players, bass guitar, and drums. Utilizing an array of sounds the group is able to simulate anything from full orchestra to jazz ensemble. Their repertoire includes a variety of genres, from Bach to the Beatles. The USAO Key Players perform a joint concert with the Concert Band each trimester and have performed for campus events. The USAO Key Players are under the direction of Dr. Dan Hanson.
The USAO Vocal Jazz Ensemble is a mixed vocal group with rhythm section accompaniment. The group is selected by audition and is open to the general student population. They have performed for commencements, civic events and banquets, and perform a full-length concert every trimester. In the spring of 2009 the ensemble toured, performing five concerts en route to, or in New Orleans. The group is under the direction of Dr. Kenneth Bohannon, with Rhenada Finch serving as piano accompanist.
Opera Scenes meets every other second or third year at USAO, under the direction of Dr. Ken Bohannon. They present concerts on campus and perform for area schools. This ensemble of singers and chorus is open to the general student population, but is generally made up mostly of vocal music majors.
Music Theatre Workshop presents scenes from musicals. The workshop is open to all USAO students, though is generally comprised of Theatre and Music majors. This class is generally offered every other year and is under the direction of Dr. Jan Hanson.