California State University, Fresno's music ensembles have been received enthusiastically by audiences both at home and abroad. Various groups have traveled to such faraway places as Belgium, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria, Israel, Korea, Japan, the People's Republic of China, Taiwan, Russia, Poland, Italy and Egypt. These groups have also been featured at prestigious domestic venues such as New York's Carnegie Hall. They also regularly perform for numerous professional music conferences as well as for an extensive campus concert series.
Both the major and minor ensembles are the pride of the Fresno State Department of Music.
Bulldog Marching Band
Steven McKeithen, Associate Director of Bands
Fresno State is home to one of the greatest marching band programs on the west coast. Under the direction of Steven McKeithen, Associate Director of Bands, the Bulldog Pride has grown to new heights.
Besides games, the Bulldog Marching Band hosts high school marching band events such as the Sierra Cup Classic. The band performs in exhibition at many high school band competitions and is featured at numerous public events in the Fresno area.
For more information, please visit the Bulldog Marching Band website.
Dr. Cari Earnhart, Director of Choral Activities
The Fresno State Concert Choir is an auditioned mixed ensemble of 55-65 singers. Comprised of majors from throughout the university community, it is the premier singing ensemble at Fresno State. Concert Choir maintains an active performing schedule on and off campus presenting four main season concerts each year.
The ensemble explores a wide variety of repertoire from a cappella to works with instrumental ensemble or orchestra. While most members are music majors, the ensemble includes excellent singers from across the campus. It provided the singers for the Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses traveling show at the William Saroyan Theatre in November 2016 and the Star Wars in Concert traveling show at the Save Mart Center in June 2010.
The ensemble has premiered numerous works, including Kevin Memley’s “Magnificat” and Misuzu McManus’s "Three Japanese Folksongs" (recorded on the Santa Barbara Press Octavos series). In addition to performing throughout the Central Valley, the group appears frequently with the University Orchestra, Wind Orchestra, and the regional professional Fresno Philharmonic Orchestra.
Members of the Concert Choir made an appearance in China in cultural events leading up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and they performed in Vienna in 2009, Italy in 2011 and England in 2012.
Richard Giddens Jr, Director
The Fresno State Jazz Orchestra, under the direction of Dr.Richard Giddens Jr, has consistently been one of the top jazz ensembles on the West Coast for over three decades. Led, for many years, by Dr. Larry Sutherland, other directors have included Dr. James Miley, Paul Shaghoian and Dr. Michael Caldwell. Caldwell has led the group from 2002 to 2008, a period in which the group has received all superior ratings for four years at the Reno Jazz Festival. The group recently produced a CD, “Day Dream,” featuring compositions by former member Josh Appleby. The history of the ensemble includes first place awards at the Reno Jazz Festival and The Pacific Coast Collegiate Jazz Festival. The group has appeared in Europe and Japan, as well as many festivals throughout the United Stated, including the National Collegiate Jazz Festival and the Kent-Meridian Festival at the Seattle Opera House.
Dr. Thomas Loewenheim, Conductor
The Fresno State Symphony Orchestra is an ensemble comprised of, and open to, Fresno State students from all areas of study.
The orchestra presents four concerts to the public each season, featuring standard as well as some neglected repertoire for symphony orchestra ranging from the Baroque period to the twenty-first century.
In addition, the orchestra also performs works in collaboration with the Fresno State Choirs, features faculty, guests, and winners from the Annual Concerto Competition as soloists, and premiers compositions written by students and faculty.
Waterless Music: Featuring the Poetry and Narration of Philip Levine - By Benjamin Boone
Steven McKeithen, Director
Members of the Fresno State Symphonic Band are exposed to all levels of music and playing. The group is intended as the second wind orchestra for Fresno State and many students play secondary instruments in the ensemble. The group performs a wide variety of contemporary and classic wind band literature. The ensemble is offered in the fall and spring semesters of each year. Auditions are held for part placement only.
Dr. Gary P. Gilroy, Director
The Wind Orchestra is the premiere wind ensemble representing the music department at Fresno State. The Wind Orchestra enrolls the most proficient wind and percussion players from the university. Auditions are held in the first week of each semester and only a limited number of musicians are accepted into this elite group. The University Wind Ensemble has premiered original compositions by world renowned composers such as Philip Wilby and James Sochinski. This performing ensemble has been featured on many recordings available throughout the US and Europe. On June 2, 1996, the Wind Ensemble made its premiere at Carnegie Hall, sharing the state with the University of Rochester University Choir and the McCallum High School Band. The program included three works written for the Wind Ensemble by Phillip Wilby and James Sochinski. In June of 2000, the Wind Orchestra traveled to the People's Republic of China for a landmark two week tour.
The Fresno State Basketball Band is a basketball pep band that performs at all Fresno State Bulldog home games. Auditions are held in the middle of the fall semester.
More information is available on the Fresno State Bulldog Marching Band page.
Bulldog Beat is a jazz/rock/funk/pep public relations band much like those in our country’s theme parks. Members of the two separate Bulldog Beat Bands tour for one week in January to high schools throughout California. Scholarships from $2,100 to $2,800 are offered to members of these prestigious groups, which perform at community events, men and women’s basketball home games, and most home volleyball games. Members of this fine group are the nucleus of the marching band and the basketball band. The instrumentation is determined each year by the talent that is discovered through scholarship auditions.
More information is available from the Fresno State Bulldog Marching Band website.
Dr. Cari Earnhart, Director
The Fresno State Chamber Singers is comprised of 20-24 select musicians from across campus. They perform a wide variety of literature from early music to contemporary selections.
Their performances have included the Monteverdi “Vespro Della Beata Vergine” and local and world premieres of contemporary music (e.g. works by Dr. Benjamin Boone, Dr. Kenneth Froelich and Brad Hufft's "Prologue" in Fall of 2006).
The Chamber Singers present four main season concerts each year. In addition to performing on campus, they make frequent guest appearances at school and community events. Their performance credits include conventions, festivals, and even a guest appearance with country-western star Kenny Rogers.
Members of the Chamber Singers have toured Mexico, China, Europe in recent years. In April 2017, the Chamber Singers were invited to perform at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. to celebrate the U.S. Poet Laureate, Juan Felipe Herrera.
Auditions are open to all students and held at the beginning of each semester. Contact Dr. Cari Earnhart (firstname.lastname@example.org) for audition details.
Dr. Anthony P. Radford, Director
The Fresno State Children's Opera seeks to bring the fantastic and dynamic art of music and theatre to the children of the Central Valley. For years the opera students have performed operas at Fresno State as part of a rigorous vocal training program in which they undergo training in vocal technique, vocal diction, pedagogy, literature and foreign languages. The Fresno Children's Opera was started in 2016 and commissioned an opera for its inaugural season in Fall of 2016. The opera Lucinda y las Flores de la Nochebuena was composed by Evan Mack and Joshua McGuire and will be seen by over 3000 school children in November and December 2016. The Fresno State Children's Opera also saw the support of a substantial grant from the Central Valley Community Foundation for their work.
The Fresno State Children's Opera would like to announce the opportunity to help commission the opera written especially for Fresno State and the students of the Central Valley. At a donation level of $5000 you have have your name or the name of someone who know on the printed and published score, appearing on the front page of Lucinda y las Flores de la Nochebuena. For a $500 dollar donation you can sponsor a school performance in 2016.
Our 2016 season is already fully booked but Lucinda will go on tour again in the Fall for 2017. If you are interested in having a performance of this 45 minute opera at your school please contact Anthony P. Radford at email@example.com. Performances are $500 dollars for two shows on the same day.
Lucinda y las Flores de la Nochebuena is story based on a Mexican folk tale surrounding the origin of the use of poinsettias at Christmas. In this story Lucinda and her ailing mother are making a blanket as a gift for the nativity scene at the Christmas Eve service. Lucinda's mother is too sick to help Lucinda finish the blanket and cannot go to the service with her. Lucinda leaves to celebrate Christmas Eve without her mother and without a gift. On the way to church she picks a few flowers by the side of the road as a gift and she worries that this might not be good enough for the nativity scene. To her delight when she offers the gift at the altar the weeds bloom into beautiful poinsettias and Lucinda learns that she can make decisions on her own and that it doesn't matter what you give at Christmas, as long as you give from the heart.
The cast for the 2016 tour is graduate voice student Alejandra Tejeda will play Lucinda. Senior Chysanthe Pappas who will play Lucinda's mother. Junior Christopher Rodriguez will play "Everybody" and graduate voice student Ed Olivarez will play "Nobody". The director of the Fresno State Opera Theatre and Children's Opera is Dr. Anthony P. Radford.
Education Matters - Fresno State Children's Opera
Lucinda y las Flores de la Nochebuena
Clendenin Brass Quintet
Dr. Thomas Hiebert, Director
The Clendenin Brass Quintet is a scholarship ensemble funded by the generosity of the Clendenin Family of Boulder, Colorado. Dr. W. Ritchie Clendenin served as the trumpet professor and previous director of the group. He retired in 2002 after a distinguished teaching and performing career at Fresno State spanning 28 years. Following Dr. Clendenin’s retirement in 2002 Dr. Michael Caldwell served as director of the Clendenin Brass Quintet from 2002-2010; the directorship was then passed on to Dr. Nathan Soberalski during the academic year 2010-11. Currently the group is directed by Dr. Thomas Hiebert.
Selected by audition, the ensemble has earned the reputation for excellence in brass chamber music. The group performs numerous concerts during the year, along with serving in a ceremonial and entertainment capacity on campus and throughout the community.
The members of the quintet are:
Patrick Jensen (Trumpet, Senior, Trumpet Performance Major)
Dylan Sullivan (Horn, Freshman, Instrumental Music Education Major)
Key Poulan IV (Trombone, Freshman, Instrumental Music Education Major)
Fresno State Masterworks Chorus
Masterworks Chorus - Fresno State has a long tradition of partnering with members of the community in a choral setting beginning with Dr. Arthur Huff in 1966. Since that time, Fresno State has played an integral role in the Fresno choral community under the leadership of past conductors Jack Fortner, Phyllis Irwin, Randy McChesney, Leslie Guelker-Cone, Gary Unruh, Mark Bennett and Dr. Anna Hamre. The newly established Masterworks Chorus, under the direction of Dr. Cari Earnhart, continues that tradition with the mission to excite, engage, and inspire diverse audiences; to change lives through the artistry of singing.
The Masterworks Chorus is organized around the study and performance of a wide variety of choral literature. It is an auditioned choir open to students, faculty and community members; singers in all voice parts may audition before each semester.
All Fresno State students are highly encouraged to seek membership in one of the all-student choral ensembles (Concert Choir, Chamber Singers, or University Singers) to maximize the collegiate choral experience. The Fresno State Masterworks Chorus is, however, an excellent option for additional choral experience, for students who do not need to fulfill a degree requirement, or for those who seek to broaden their contact with major choral works. One may join The Masterworks Chorus as a registered student or as a community member.For more information contact Dr. Cari Earnhart (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Dr. Thomas Hiebert, Director
The horn has a long tradition of excellence at Fresno State. Dr. Tom Hiebert, Professor of Horn at Fresno State, maintains a very active horn studio. Before beginning his college teaching career Hiebert studied horn at the Cologne Conservatory in Germany, the Eastman School of Music, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and freelanced in Boston, performing with the Boston Lyric Opera among other Boston-based orchestras. In addition to an active career teaching, performing, adjudicating, and writing articles for brass journals, he continues an avid interest in his research on the history of the horn. His writings can be found in The Cambridge Companion to Brass Instruments , the newly revised New Grove Encyclopedia of Music and Musicians, The Horn Call, and the Historic Brass Society Journal, among other publications.
Prof. Hiebert's students have gone on to prestigious graduate programs as well as to teaching and performing careers. Horn students now in attendance at Fresno State can look forward to investigation with Dr. Hiebert of all facets of horn study, including: a thorough grounding in technique and interpretation, solo performance and ensemble skills, a comprehensive study of standard literature, as well as introduction to playing on the natural horn and the inclusion of jazz in the players' repertory.
Fresno State horn students have opportunities to play in a variety of ensembles and performing groups. They are:
- The outstanding Symphony Orchestra and Fresno State Wind Orchestra under the direction of Dr. Thomas Loewenheim and Dr. Gary P. Gilroy respectively.
- The Symphonic Band
- The President's Quintet – a scholarship ensemble
- The Clendenin Brass Quintet – a scholarship ensemble
- The Fresno State Horn Ensemble
While pursuing their studies, horn students have often been hired locally to play for the Fresno Philharmonic Orchestra, the Tulare County Symphony, the Gold Country Chamber Orchestra, and the Merced Symphony, among other organizations.
Fresno State Horn Ensemble
Scholarship positions for horn students at California State University, Fresno are:
- The President's (Woodwind) Quintet
- the University Brass Quintet
- Bulldog Beat
- Marching Band
- Horn Studio Scholarships
In addition, Work-Study positions are available for students who meet the requirements. Contact Dr. Hiebert for further information on scholarships.
Fresno State features two fine jazz bands: the Jazz Orchestra and the Jazz Ensemble, both directed by Craig Vonberg. Both ensembles consist of standard big band instrumentation. The groups require an audition for membership, held each semester. The jazz bands perform at many different venues during the year, including the Reno Jazz Festival and prestigious Fresno State events such as the Top Dog Gala.
You can view our upcoming concert and performances on the Concert & Tickets page.
The ensemble performs each semester in a concert of Piano Majors. Check the Concerts & Tickets page for more information on upcoming performances.
New Music Ensemble
The Fresno State New Music Ensemble is a student-run chamber group dedicated to the performance and promotion of music
by living composers. The New Music Ensemble, which is made up of some of the top performers
in the Fresno State Music Department, presents at least one concert each semester
at CSU Fresno, in addition to other performances around the state. Works are chosen
from a wide range of contemporary composers from around the world in various stages
of their careers, from student composers to internationally-recognized professionals.
In the 2015-16 season, the New Music Ensemble will present two concerts at CSU Fresno,
one of which will feature music by living Armenian composers, in addition to a concert
at the Brand Library & Art Center in Glendale, California.
The New Music Ensemble features:
Cassandra Barnes, flute
Katie Winter, clarinet
Joshua Locher, saxophone
Andrew Watkins, trombone
Joshua Witrado, percussion
Nathaniel Musso and Nathan Nau, piano
Lianna Stuart, violin
Amy Dockum and Patricia Fronda, cello
Shawn Toner, double bass
Dr. Kenneth Froelich, faculty advisor
Fresno State Opera Theatre educates young singers in the art of opera through a program
of classes in body awareness, stage techniques and acting. Under the direction of
Dr. Anthony P. Radford it has quickly become the top ensemble in the Central Valley
for training the next generation of opera singers through a comprehensive program
within the Vocal Performance option in the Bachelor of Arts Degree. Students have
the opportunity to perform in opera scenes and full productions with orchestra. Recent
productions include, Carmen directed by Theatre and Dance Professor Ruth Griffin and
La Boheme with the Fresno State Symphony Orchestra, Amahl and the Night Visitors with
chamber orchestra and Pizza con Funghi and Elixir of Love in full production with
piano. Yearly scenes programs explore various themes in the operatic literature. Recent
themes were “Opera in the Country”, “French Opera Scenes”, “Opera Favorites” and an
entire show of great opera finales.
2013 saw the first year of Fresno State Opera Theatre’s participation in Fresno Opera and Orchestra Academy with a performance of the trio from Der Rosenkavalier in Disney Hall and a performance at Fresno State of Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci.
The Opera Theatre also provides students with other exciting opportunities such as exploring new works and working with guest artists. In 2014 the Fresno State Opera Theatre mounted the world premiere of The Secret of Luca, a new opera by Evan Mack and Joshua Mcguire. Fresno State Opera Theatre also commissioned a work by students Carlos Gamboa and Sharon Rogers titled “Mother, please”. In the Spring of 2017 FSOT will premiere a new work by Fresno State composer Kenneth Froelich titled “Jefferson” an opera about the short lived Northern California secession movement.
Guests Artists have included author and director David Ostwald, director Yefim Maizel, soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian, and soprano Ellen Shade.
In 2013/14 Fresno State Opera Theatre collaborated with the San Jose State Opera Theatre in an exchange with each opera program visiting the other to work on and perform opera scenes.
Keeping with our tradition of performing a full opera every year, in the Fall of 2015 we will perform Benjamin Britten's opera Albert Herring. In 2016 we will begin an exciting collaboration with Fresno Grand Opera and the Composition Studio at Fresno State which will include visits from acclaimed opera composers Jake Heggie and Ricky Ian Gordon.
Lucinda y las Flores de la Nochebuena
The winners of the Central Valley Community Foundation's 2016 Arts and Culture granting cycle were announced this week and the Fresno State Opera Theatre was awarded $10,000 to commission and produce a newly composed children's opera titled Lucinda y las Flores de la Nochebuena by composer Evan Mack and librettist Joshua McGuire. This is the first grant to be awarded to Fresno State in the area of opera for young audiences.
Joshua McGuire (seated) and Evan Mack (at the piano) work on their new opera Lucinda y las Flores de la Nochebuena with Fresno State graduate students Alejandra Tejeda and Ed Olivarez during their week long residency at Fresno State. March 28 2016
Watch our world premiere of Evan Mack and Joshua McGuire’s The Secret of Luca below:
To watch our Spring 2015 production of Carmen visit:
Friday Cast https://vimeo.com/122347576
Sunday Cast https://vimeo.com/123009244
Dr. Matthew Darling, Director
The Fresno State Percussion Ensemble, under the direction of Dr. Matthew exposes students, mostly percussion majors and minors, to music written expressly for percussion. Many musical styles and techniques are covered including European, African, Asian, Latin, and American. The ensemble performs many concerts throughout the year and goes on a short tour in the spring semester. The group also participates in the "Kids Koncert" Series. All percussionists are welcome to audition for the percussion ensemble, auditions are held at the beginning of each semester.
Standing: Sam Kennedy, French Horn, Nathaniel Camp, Basson
Front: Katie Winter, Clarinet, Brooke Ferdinandsen, Oboe, Katrina Bissett, Flute
Dr. Teresa Beaman, Director
The President's Quintet of California State University, Fresno is a scholarship woodwind ensemble whose members are selected by audition. Scholarship monies are funded through the Office of the President. The Quintet is a premiere honors ensemble for highly talented music students. Members of the ensemble become familiar with a vast array of examples from the woodwind quintet repertoire, from standard staples to more diverse styles. Through participation in the ensemble, students gain an increased awareness of professionalism, increased performance experience, honed entrepreneurial skills, and a sense of community.
In previous years, the outstanding ensemble has toured Europe, Asia, New York City, and California. Highlights of accomplishments include a summer study and tour of Italy in 1989 and an invitation to perform for Secretary of State James Baker and California Governor George Deukmejian at the centennial ceremonies of Yosemite National Park in 1991. Funding for tours and commissions is provided in large part by the California State University, Fresno Associated Students, Inc., as well as by income generated from concert receipts and the generous donations of patrons.
The Quintet was founded in 1979 and directed by John R. Heard. The ensemble was passed on to Dr. James H. Winter in 1982 and to Dr. Jose A. Diaz in 1987. Since 1991, coaching responsibilities have been rotated amongst all of the woodwind faculty. Dr. Teresa Beaman currently directs the ensemble.
Dr. Thomas Loewenheim, Director
The Fresno State String Quartet is the premiere string ensemble at the Department of Music of the California State University, Fresno, and is coached by Dr. Thomas Loewenheim. The members of this quartet are chosen by audition each year and receive a scholarship. In addition to the scholarship, the members are entitled to select and use instruments from the fine string instruments collection, which belongs to the Department of Music.
The quartet presents concerts to the public both on and off campus, and features standard as well as less common works from the repertoire for string quartet. In addition, the Fresno State String Quartet also frequently collaborates with faculty and students from the department of music, presenting master pieces for larger chamber music ensembles.
Dr. Emily Mason, Conductor
University Singers is a mixed choral ensemble that includes students of various majors from all across the Fresno State campus and is perfect for both music majors and non-majors.
The ensemble performs 1-2 times each semester and is organized around the study and performance of choral literature and vocal techniques appropriate for a beginning college-level choir.
The Department of Music has many scholarship opportunities.
Several ensembles are developed for students that have outstanding skills in music. The members of these select ensembles all receive scholarships. Members are determined by special auditions that are held during the Summer before the school year.
For more information about these groups contact the Fresno State Music Department at (559) 278-2654.