Groups & Ensembles
Hartt's professional character is reflected in the richness of performance opportunities afforded to our students. Membership in all performing organizations is by audition. The Hartt School presents individual student recitals to major performances by Hartt choruses, jazz ensembles, wind ensembles and orchestra; fully-staged plays, musicals, and operas; and dance performances.
All University of Hartford students are invited to audition for performing organizations.
Comprised of undergraduate and graduate bass students, various sizes of ensembles are formed from trios to octets and rehearse twice weekly. The literature studied includes original works and transcriptions from all periods of Western music and contemporary pop culture; repertoire ranges from Monteverdi to Metallica. Special projects in the past have included working with composers on new pieces, collaborating with choreographers on movement-related works, and the commissioning of Julia Wolfe’s bass octet – Stronghold. Concerts are presented each semester and occasional performances are given off-campus, the most recent being at the Bang On A Can Marathon in New York City.
Under the direction of Phil Snedecor, the Brass Repertoire Class and the Hartt Large Brass Ensemble meet twice a week during each semester. The Ensemble consists of an augmented large orchestral brass section, and performs works of all time periods. There are many concert appearances throughout the year, both on campus and in the community. The rehearsals are a mix of reading through the standard repertoire, and preparing arrangements and compositions written specifically for large brass for public appearances.
Chamber Music has been an integral part of the mission of The Hartt School since its inception. The Hartt Quartet was a faculty group established early in the history of the school. In the 1980s, the Emerson Quartet became the quartet in residence at Hartt. They were succeeded by the Miami Quartet. Additionally, there are many faculty members that belong to internationally established chamber groups such as the Lion’s Gate Trio, the Miller-Porfiris Duo, the Adaskin Trio, and the Philadelphia Brass Quintet. This strong emphasis on experienced chamber faculty interacting daily with the students underscores the mission of chamber music at Hartt:
To nurture ensemble playing at all levels toward artistic excellence through the cooperative teaching and performance of chamber music. In doing so, maintain the tradition of ensemble playing that has been synonymous with the name of The Hartt School for the past 30 years nationally and internationally, as well as foster chamber music relationships between Hartford-area arts organizations and The Hartt School, and area museums, galleries, secondary schools, libraries, and hospitals. To continue the tradition of The Hartt School as a chamber-music destination.
All students participating in chamber music are given weekly coachings, and the chance to perform in masterclass setting in a weekly Chamber Music Performance Hour led by Hartt faculty and guest artists. Recent years have had students performing in masterclasses for members of the Guarneri, Juilliard, Chiara, Pacifica, Brentano, American, Jack, St.Lawrence, Dover and Emerson Quartets, as well as the Imani Winds and the American and Boston Brass Quintets. Hartt students perform annually at over 50 concerts both on and off campus.
The Hartt School Collegium Musicum is an ensemble that performs music from the late-1500’s to the mid-1700’s, from John Dowland and Monteverdi to C.P.E. Bach and Joseph Haydn. It is coached regularly by Dr. Kenneth Nott and Emlyn Ngai, concertmaster of Tempesta di Mare, the Philadelphia Baroque Orchestra. As members of Collegium, string, wind, brass and keyboard students learn to cultivate a stylistic awareness appropriate to the repertoire, often confronting key issues of performance practice. In addition to Baroque chamber music, Collegium operates without a conductor in performing 18th-century orchestral works and so serves as a bridge between chamber music and orchestral performance in a student’s ensemble playing experience. Students are often asked to take leadership roles that deepen their musicianship development. Though primarily an instrumental ensemble, Collegium invites collaboration with outstanding young vocalists to explore the vast repertoire of cantatas, oratorios and operas.
The Collegium performs well-known pieces such as the Bach Brandenburg concerti and Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, as well as continues to explore lesser-known but no less deserving works.
Hartt Composers Ensemble provides the opportunity for both composition majors and other students to play contemporary music in a serious but friendly environment. Students are able to workshop compositional ideas with their peers. Members of the Ensemble rehearse and perform original works and works from the contemporary repertoire in a diversity of styles and perform each semester at Hartt and elsewhere. Pieces that are more experimental, improvisatory, and open find a place for presentation that a may to exist elsewhere. Instrumentation is flexible.
Hartt Dance Ensemble performances are presented in our three fully equipped theaters throughout the year often in collaboration with live music. In addition, dancers have opportunities to perform in Opera and Musical Theatre productions and as touring ensembles to such venues as The Kennedy Center, Washington, D.C., The Joyce Theater in NYC, and Jacob’s Pillow.
Hartt's Dance Division produces two main-stage concerts every year showcasing students in the works of the most significant choreographers past and present. Concerts are fully produced and often in collaboration with the live music from Hartt musicians. In addition, dance students perform in Musical Theatre and Opera productions as well as in an ever-expanding roster of mentored interdisciplinary collaborative events.
Senior Composition Concert
As part of their composition curriculum, senior dance majors present two black box concerts of their choreography each year, one of which is in collaboration with Hartt composers. They hold auditions and cast their undergraduate classmates in their work. The educational experience exactly mirrors that of a professional choreographer's responsibilities, including presenting artistic proposals, holding auditions and casting their undergraduate classmates, working with wardrobe staff and production crew, and designing their own lighting. Students also commission solo choreography from professional choreographers for this performance.
The Euphonium Tuba Consortium (ETC) meets for an hour a week and gives a major concert every semester. This ensemble is made up of undergraduate and graduate performance majors and non performance majors, who are proficient on the euphonium and tuba. This ensemble performs a wide range of music from all genres and welcomes new works by Hartt composition students.
Foot in the Door is a mixed ensemble of musicians whose repertoire includes music of established as well as emerging 20th- and 21st-century composers. Members play in a variety of ensemble sizes from small chamber groups to large chamber orchestras. The ensemble has appeared in several of the nation's major cities, and has been heard on Connecticut Public Radio and WNYC-FM and recorded for Opus One and CRI labels. In addition to works by Hartt students, faculty and alumni, the past several seasons have featured music by world-renowned composers including Adams, Bolcom, Berio, Ligeti, Cage, Schoenberg, Schwantner, Reich, Webern, Messiaen, Boulez, and Stravinsky.
About the name:
"A Foot in the Door" is the title of the autobiography of Alfred C. Fuller (1885-1973), who gained worldwide fame as the founder of the Fuller Brush Company. He established the company in Hartford, Connecticut in the early days of the 20th century, and actively presided over it for more than 50 years. Mr. Fuller was also a champion of the arts, and for many years he, along with his wife Mary Primrose Fuller, was the principal benefactor of The Hartt School. "A Foot in the Door" is the figure of speech used to describe the technique whereby door-to-door salesmen (for many years the only way Fuller brushes were sold) would win a few minutes to pitch the virtues of their products. Likewise, we have chosen this as the name for our contemporary music ensemble, reflecting the pluck, ingenuity and perseverance that our students bring to the task of promulgating new music -- of all genres and types -- to the wider world.
Students enrolled in Guitar Ensemble will learn and perform duos, trios and quartets of various genres throughout each semester. Guitar Ensemble is required for all eight semesters in the Bachelors of Music in Guitar Performance degree and is available as an elective for students in the Masters, Diploma and Doctoral degrees. Students will develop the necessary practice and rehearsal skills necessary to professionally communicate their combined musical and artistic ideas. Individual guitar ensembles receive a weekly coaching from a member of the guitar faculty in addition to their weekly rehearsals. The Guitar Ensemble performs a wide array of music from J.S. Bach to Leo Brouwer.
The Jazz Guitar Ensemble is held in a workshop setting and addresses a wide variety of areas including soloing, comping, and ear training, with special attention given to sight reading. This course meets once a week and is encouraged for all students with a jazz guitar concentration.
Large Jazz Ensemble
Under the direction of Chris Casey, the Large Jazz Ensemble gives students experience performing in a larger "big band" setting. Students have the opportunity to perform repertoire from the libraries of classic big bands such as Ellington/Strayhorn, Basie, Dameron, Gillespie, Thad Jones/Mel Lewis,etc. New original works/arrangements are also performed. The Large Jazz Ensemble has performed with guest artists such as Jimmy Heath, Terell Stafford, and Jon Faddis.
The Small Jazz Ensembles are instructed with themes that encompass the repertoire from Swing to Bebop to artists of today. Each ensemble focuses on material from a specific time frame.
- Art Blakey Ensemble - Javon Jackson
- Duke Ellington Ensemble; Tadd Dameron Ensemble - Chris Casey
- Charlie Parker Ensemble; Jackie McLean Ensemble - Rene McLean
- Thelonious Monk Ensemble - Steve Davis
- American Broadway Songbook Ensemble - Nat Reeves
Hartt Orchestra provides students with exceptional performance opportunities, presenting up to eight concerts a year, including collaborative performances with Hartt Dance, Hartt Music Theatre, and Hartt Opera Theater. Recent works performed include Brahms Symphony no. 1, Schoenberg's Verklärte Nacht, Mendelssohn's Symphony no. 3, Stravinsky's Le sacre du printemps and Strauss's Don Quixote. Annual events also include the Halloween concert, which has become enormously popular throughout the Greater Hartford community, and the Paranov Concerto concert, featuring two outstanding instrumentalist soloists from The Hartt School.
The Hartt Percussion Ensemble first performed in 1947 and began rehearsing and presenting concerts on a regular basis in 1950, distinguishing it as one of the first ensembles of it’s type in the United States. Since its inception over 70 years ago, the ensemble has had two directors: Alexander Lepak and Benjamin Toth.
With an emphasis on chamber music, the Hartt Percussion Ensemble’s repertoire includes works for both small and large ensembles. Programming includes percussion ensemble “classics” (by Varese, Cage, Harrison, Reich, etc.), as well as contemporary literature and premier performances. Concerts have also featured the folkloric music of various cultures, including that of Mexico, Africa, Cuba, Brazil, and the Middle East, as well as American ragtime. In addition, the Hartt Graduate Percussion Group and the Hartt Steelband serve as extensions of the Hartt Percussion Ensemble. Ensemble members are pursuing a wide variety of majors at The Hartt School, including percussion performance, music education, music management, acoustics, music production and technology, and composition.
Highlights from the ensemble’s concert schedule include: Percussive Arts Society (PAS) International Conventions in Phoenix (1995), Columbus (1999), Austin (2008), and Indianapolis (2013 and 2014); the National Association of Composers - USA concert series (New York); the Extension Works concert series (Boston); the Connecticut Music Educator’s Annual Conference; PAS state conventions in Maine and Connecticut; and workshops and concerts at Bennington College (Vermont); Michigan State University; and Grand Valley State University (Michigan). The ensemble has also presented over 150 children’s programs and steelband concerts throughout southern New England. The Hartt Graduate Percussion Group has recorded for the Innova, Yesa, 11 West Records, and Hartt labels.
Guest performers appearing with the ensemble have included frame drummer Glen Velez; jazz mallet players Dave Samuels and Ted Piltzecker; marimbist Nebojsa Jovan Zivkovic; Brazilian percussionist Rogerio Boccato; African drummer Joseph Galeota; Latin percussionists John Amira and Johnny Almendra; hand drummer Shane Shanahan; composer, timpanist, and PAS Hall of Fame member Alexander Lepak; and percussionist/composer (and John Cage biographer) David Revill.
Benjamin Toth, Professor of Percussion at The Hartt School, brings more than 30 years of professional chamber music performing experience to the ensemble – his chamber music performance highlights include Percussion Group Cincinnati (2017 PAS Hall of Fame inductees), and the Jovan Percussion Projekt. His performances have spanned six continents, particularly throughout Europe, Asia, and the United States, and he has appeared on twenty recordings.
Featuring the music of the Caribbean, the Hartt Steelband is one of the first conservatory-sponsored steel drum bands in the country. The ensemble performs on hand-crafted steel drums (or “pans”) created from finely tuned 55-gallon oil barrels by Trinidad-native Clifford Alexis and Hartt alumnus Kyle Dunleavy. The Hartt Steelband’s repertoire includes traditional Jamaican folk songs, Latin-American “salsa”, Brazilian samba, American popular music, Western European classics, and features the calypso and soca music of Trinidad, birthplace of the steel pan. Members of the ensemble are pursuing a wide variety of majors at The Hartt School, including performance, music education, music management, acoustics, music production and technology, and composition. Performances by The Hartt Steelband normally include informative descriptions and demonstrations of the instruments and music, while also providing an historical perspective and cultural background of the art form. The ensemble has performed for several public schools, conferences, concert series, and festivals throughout New England, having presented well over 100 concerts to date. Professor Benjamin Toth has presented concerts and recitals, radio and television broadcasts, master classes, and children’s programs throughout many countries, spanning six continents.
Theatre Division productions are performed in the Mort and Irma Handel Performing Arts Center as well as the Lincoln Theater and Millard Auditorium on the main campus.
Performance opportunities in the Actor Training program begin with second year projects and culminate with full scale, professionally designed mainstage productions in the fourth year. Plays are selected for the class and are chosen to provide the actors a wide-ranging experience from across the theatrical repertoire. Productions are directed by Hartt faculty members and guest artists from the professional theatre. In our "Partnership in Training" program, students may also audition for the Tony Award-winning Hartford Stage Company where they can perform with a professional company of distinguished Equity actors and directors from around the country.
Recent productions: The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, August Osage County, reasons to be pretty, and Taming of the Shrew
Students in the Music Theatre program perform in one or two productions each semester starting in the second year. Hartt produces at least four major musicals each year from across the theatrical repertoire, as well as new works. Music Theatre students may also be cast in Actor Training productions including Shakespeare and contemporary plays. The Hartt School/Goodspeed Musicals "Partnership in Training" residency offers senior Music Theatre students the opportunity to audition for Goodspeed's artistic staff and participate in the development of new works. Students may also audition for productions at Hartford Stage Company.
Recent productions: Reefer Madness, Titanic, Man of La Mancha, Rocky Horror Picture Show, Little Women
A treble choir of SSA with 25 to 30 voices that performs a variety of music for female voices, both a capella and accompanied repertoire. Occasionally, the Camerata combines with other choirs to perform major choral works.
A mixed choir of SATB with 45 to 60 singers that performs a variety of both mixed-choir and men's or women's repertoire.
A mixed chorus for SATB with 35 to 45 singers that performs a wide variety of a cappella and accompanied repertoire from the Baroque period to the present day in four to six concerts each year. This more advanced choir performs alone or combined with the Chamber Choir as the Concert Choir.
The Hartt Chamber Choir (an advanced SATB choir with 24 singers) performs a wide range of repertoire from 16th-century polyphony through contemporary works. The Chamber Choir performs independently and combined with other Hartt vocal ensembles. Students are auditioned on the basis of vocal ability, musicianship, stylistic sensitivity, and vocal flexibility. Members of the Hartt Chamber Choir excel not only in choral singing but also in recital singing and opera performance with many of its singers performing lead roles in Hartt’s undergraduate black boxes and main stage operas. The Hartt Chamber Choir performs four to six programs every year in independent concerts or in conjunction with other Hartt choral ensembles.
Hartt Opera Theater
Each year vocal performance majors perform in one fully-staged opera in addition to various opera scenes. Hartt's opera productions are designed so that, in performing a variety of operatic repertoire, students have an educational experience in learning and preparing a role, learning stagecraft, and working with professional stage directors and production staff. Recent guest directors include Peter Kazaras (Seattle Opera), Ron Luchsinger (Opera North), and William Koch (American Academy of Dramatic Arts, NY Village Light Opera Group).
The Hartt Touring Choir SATB with 40 to 45 voices has performed several international tours, traveling to Italy, Spain, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Austria and Germany.
Vocal Recital Series
The Vocal Recital Series includes four concerts per year in which every freshman and sophomore vocal performance major performs once and every junior and senior vocal performance major performs twice. The Vocal Recital Series is a progression of the vocal seminar classes in which students concentrate on the performance of the art song repertoire. Seminars focus on interpretation, stage presence, and communication, as well as musicianship and language skills.
The Hartt Omni-Wind Ensemble performs a wide range of repertoire written for winds and percussion from small chamber ensembles to full symphonic band.
The Hartt Wind Ensemble is nationally recognized for its quality performances and innovative programming. During the past 18 years the wind ensemble has premiered 55 works and has had in residence composers John Corigliano, Michael Daugherty, Joseph Schwantner, Joseph Turrin, Joan Tower, Susan Botti, Bright Sheng, Jennifer Higdon, Frank Ticheli, Michael Colgrass, William Bolcom, and Chen Yi, Zhou Long, David Maslanka, Donald Grantham, and Lu Pei among others. Guest conductors have included H. Robert Reynolds, Frank Battisti, Joe Turrin, Eric Rombach-Kendall and Tim Reynish, Rick Clary. Guest soloists have included Robert Black (Double Bass), Ben Toth (Percussion), Cherie Caluda (Soprano), Carrie Koffman (Saxophone), Marc Goldberg (Bassoon), Joseph Alessi (Trombone), Scott Hartman (Trombone), James Jackson (Euphonium), and the American Brass Quintet, Phil Snedecor (Trumpet). The ensemble has performed at four Eastern Regional College Band Directors National Association conferences and at the three national CBDNA conferences. In 2010, the ensemble made its Carnegie Hall debut in Stern Hall performing the world premiere performance of Chen Yi's Dagon Rhyme. The ensemble has also released three recordings for the NAXOS Label. In reviews Gramophone Magazine describes The Hartt Wind Ensemble as “stellar.”