Performance and Research Opportunities

A performer's "research" is usually the development of performance skills through rehearsal, guidance and commitment. Hamilton's eight ensembles offer a breadth of opportunity exceptional for a college of our size. Students are encouraged to participate in more than one ensemble, and participation earns partial course credit. Solo performance options are also provided.

  • Choir. This group of about 60 singers produces a musical or operetta each year and undertakes an annual spring concert tour.
  • Orchestra. The Orchestra includes more than 50 students and has recently performed the works of Bartók, Beethoven, Copland, Mozart, Sibelius, and Stravinsky. The Orchestra frequently commissions and premieres new works for orchestra.
  • Jazz Ensemble. Focusing on the big band sound, the Jazz Ensemble also provides opportunities for improvisation. It has toured New England and performed at Carnegie Hall.
  • Masterworks Chorale. The Hamilton College Masterworks Chorale, numbering about 135 singers, brings together students, faculty, staff and neighbors to sing oratorios and other large choral works.
  • Brass Ensemble. The Brass Ensemble provides music for various College functions and performs concerts off campus. The campus enjoys the Brass Ensemble's "guerrilla caroling" on the last day of classes each fall semester.
  • Woodwind ensembles. These ensembles encourage the study and performance of music for various combinations of wind instruments. The repertory has included works by Mozart, Richard Strauss, Jacques Ibert and Irving Fine.
  • Chamber music groups. These groups give instrumentalists the opportunity to participate in small ensembles made up of a variety of string and wind instruments and piano.
  • Solo performance. Vocal and instrumental soloists have a range of performing opportunities, including departmental concerts, recitals and featured appearances with ensembles. The department offers courses in vocal and instrumental solo performance by a faculty of private instructors. A fee is charged for such instruction; students receiving financial aid are eligible for assistance in meeting the cost.


Jake Blount '17
Jake Blount ’17 Hopes to Uncover The “Ithaca Sound” in Emerson Project

Jake Meserve Blount ’17 is spending his summer pursuing a fieldwork project under the advisement of Professor of Music Lydia Hamessley titled “Fiddles in the North Country: Uncovering the Ithaca Sound.” Blount’s research is funded through an Emerson Foundation Grant.  More ...

Mackenzie Leavenworth '15, right, on site in Gournia, Greece, during a 2013 Emerson research expedition with Professor John McEnroe.
26 Students Awarded Emerson Research Grants

Recipients of the 2014 Emerson Summer Grants were recently announced. Created in 1997, the  program was designed to provide students with significant opportunities to work collaboratively with faculty members, researching an area of interest. The recipients, covering a range of topics, are exploring fieldwork, laboratory and library research, and the development of teaching materials. The students will make public presentations of their research throughout the academic year.  More ...

Nathaniel Livingston '14 with his advisor Prof. Lydia Hamessley.
Livingston Examines the Poetics of Music in Emerson Project

If you’ve been on Hamilton’s campus this summer, you may have heard the sound of bagpipes drifting over Minor Field. Nathaniel Livingston ’14 has been playing them as part of his Emerson Foundation project, “Performing the Poetics of Music.” Through his project, he is researching the ancient instruments and epics of Scotland and Finland and exploring a long-standing interest in the intersection of music and poetry.  More ...

Eil Davidow '14
I’m With the Band… Kind Of

After attending a music concert, fans may not think about how much effort and planning went into the performance they just witnessed.  Between picking a location, agreeing to a contract and managing equipment, hundreds of details are involved.  This summer, Eli Davidow ’15 is learning the intricacies of record labels, booking agencies and performance venues.  More ...

Gabe Mollica '14
Gabe Mollica ’14 Conducts First Complete Analysis on Into the Woods

Gabe Mollica ’14 first discovered Stephen Sondheim’s music during a weeklong Westminster Choir summer camp at Rider University and was struck by the complication and sophistication of the composer’s work. Mollica will continue to study Sondheim’s work with the help of an Emerson summer research grant.   More ...

Catherine Crone '13
Catherine Crone ’13 Compiling Banjo Manual Collection for Emerson Project

The banjo can reveal much about socioeconomic class, slavery and music in the 19th century. Catherine Crone ’13 certainly sees the value in this often-neglected instrument. She will spend this summer researching the banjo in order to build an Internet resource about its past and its significance. Crone will be working under an Emerson Summer Grant with Professor of Music Lydia Hamessley to create their project, “A Study of Banjo Instruction Manuals from the 19th Century.”  More ...