Jazz Ensemble

Welcome to Jazz at Wheaton! The Conservatory of Music offers a wide variety of jazz performance opportunities aimed at providing practical musical training grounded in the authentic articulation of the jazz language. You need not be a music major to audition for any of our performing groups. Below, you will find audition information as well as program highlights for the upcoming school year.


The Jazz Ensemble rehearses Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 7:00 to 8:30pm in Edman 102. Combo rehearsals are on Wednesday evenings.

The first gathering for all jazz students will be on Thursday, August 27th.  Auditions will be held from 7-8pm, followed by a faculty performance.

The first rehearsal for the Wheaton Jazz Ensemble is on Tuesday, September 1, 2015.  Combos will begin Wednesday, September 2, 2015.  

Jazz Performances at Wheaton

  • October 31 - Wheaton Family Weekend Concert in Edman Chapel (7:30pm)
  • November 19 - Fall Jazz Ensemble Concert in Barrows (Dress rehearsal on Nov 17)
  • January 22 - Wheaton College Artist Series Presents Jazz in January
    • An evening of jazz compositions featuring trumpeter James Davis, guitarist Steve Ramsdell and bassist Katie Ernst. The concert takes place in Coray Alumni Gymnasium, located at 421 North Chase Street in Wheaton. Ticket price is $20 for general audience and $10 for students.
  • March 2 - Jazz Combo Concert in Chatlos TV Studio (Dress rehearsal on March 1)
  • April 28 - Jazz Ensemble Spring Concert in Edman Chapel (Dress rehearsal on April 26)

Performing Groups

Wheaton Jazz Ensemble (big band, approx 18 members)

Showcase and Green Mill Combos (5-7 members each)


Jazz Ensemble:

  • 2 Alto Saxophones (clarinet and flute doubles preferred)
  • 2 Tenor Saxophones (clarinet and flute doubles preferred)
  • 1 Baritone Saxophone (clarinet and flute doubles preferred)
  • 4 Trumpets / 4 Trombones
  • Piano / Guitar / Upright Bass / Drums & Percussion
  • Voice


  • Instrumentation varies based on audition results


Program Highlights

  • Clinics with visiting jazz musicians - Past clinicians included Dr. Ron Carter, trumpeter Marquis Hill, saxophonist Caroline Davis, trumpeter Victor Garcia, and drummer Joel Spencer.
  • Performances with touring jazz musicians - Guest artists have included Dana Hall, Mike Lee & New Tricks and the Luke Gillespie Trio.
  • Trips to hear world-class jazz in Chicago - Jazz outings include trips to the Chicago Jazz Festival, The Jazz Showcase and Symphony Center Jazz concerts.
  • Recording experience at WETN - Combos record annually in spaces such as Wheaton's Shea Studio and the Chicago Recording Company.
  • Collaborative workshops with other Chicago-area jazz ensembles
  • Additional performances at The Stupe and at Chapel


Audition Sign-ups

Please email Katie Ernst to sign up in advance: katieernstjazz@gmail.com

Audition Requirements

Auditions run approximately 5 min and include a prepared excerpt from the big band repertoire (provided once audition has been scheduled), sight-reading, and optional improvisation over 12-bar blues (C, F or Bb). Students are also encouraged to perform a prepared tune or written excerpt. Students will be placed in ensembles based on ability and ensemble needs.

Note: Students do NOT need to re-audition once they have been accepted into the ensemble.

Private Study

Develop your sound and improvisational method through one-on-one study our outstanding roster of private teachers. To enroll in private study, visit the Conservatory office in McAlister Hall (2nd Floor) and send an email to your instructor of choice:


Katie Ernst
Jazz Ensemble Director

Media Center