Skip to main content Skip to main navigation Skip to footer content

About the School of Music

Composition, Music History, & Theory

Adriana Ponce, Head of the Department

The Composition, Music History, and Theory Department includes the areas of composition, music history, and music theory. Whether students major in composition or take departmental courses as part of another program--or as electives--they work with professors who are not only distinguished in the professional world but who are also dedicated and gifted as teachers.

Students in all music degree programs take a number of courses in the department, including music theory and ear training, a two-semester survey of music history, and a selection of courses focusing on concert music of particular historical periods. Students in the BM in Composition program work individually with faculty composers every semester on creative projects, participate regularly in student composition concerts, and give a senior recital of their music. Courses offered by the department (many of which are required for composition majors) include orchestration, counterpoint, electronic and computer music, special topics in music history, analysis of contemporary music, world music, improvisation, and jazz.

Illinois Wesleyan has one of the most active new-music scenes of any liberal arts college in the United States. The New Music Series includes the Symposium of Contemporary Music, the New Music Caf concert series, and other events which bring prominent composers and performers of contemporary music to campus for performances, discussions and master classes. New music is regularly programmed in concerts of IWU’s instrumental and choral ensembles, and student composition recitals are presented frequently as a part of the New Music Series every semester. Students interested in performing, composing and/or learning about contemporary music will find many opportunities here.

Department Faculty Alumni


Ilia Radoslavov, Head of the department
Auditioning for Music Performance: Piano

Pianists majoring in music pursue keyboard study within the context of one of the following degrees:  BM in PerformanceBME, and BA in Music. The BM degree offers the most intense concentration in musical studies, including an hour of weekly private instruction throughout the four-year program. The BME degree offers the same format for the first three years of the program. The BA program offers 30 minutes of weekly private instruction over the four-year program. Candidates for all degrees receive additional instruction in weekly repertoire classes where students perform for their peers. Though the actual amount of performance training varies according to the degree objective, the piano faculty seeks to develop each student’s full potential for artistic expression.

The School of Music offers many opportunities for performance. Venues include weekly repertoire/performance classes, departmental recitals (featuring performers from every piano studio), convocations highlighting soloists and ensembles from across the School of Music, concerto performances with the Illinois Wesleyan Symphony Orchestra, extensive chamber music opportunities, and solo recitals.

The main recital hall, Westbrook Auditorium in Presser Hall, houses two Steinway concert grands of superb quality. The School of Music provides practice rooms to piano majors, each of which is equipped with a Steinway grand piano.

Department Faculty

Music Education

Scott Whitman, Head of the Department

The Music Education program at Illinois Wesleyan University provides students with the comprehensive knowledge and skills required for careers as successful music educators. The Music Education program is committed to:

  • provide a liberal education of high quality for all students
  • develop a high degree of competence in basic musicianship
  • promote and develop personal and professional qualities essential for music educators
  • instill in future music educators the value of teaching all students to create, perform, and respond to music
  • exercise aesthetic and creative judgment in all encounters with music
  • be flexible in adjusting to the evolving demands of the music education field
  • relate effectively to individuals and society.

Curriculum and Licensure

At Illinois Wesleyan University, music education candidates complete a program that imparts the skills necessary to obtain an initial K-12 teaching license in the field of music in the state of Illinois. In pursuing this goal, candidates fulfill university graduation requirements through participating in an interdisciplinary, goals-oriented general education program that complements their completion of a comprehensive curriculum designed for the music education major. As part of this curriculum, students complete a semester-long student teaching experience.

Music education students are required to select a concentration in voice, keyboard or instrumental music. Candidates complete a curriculum that includes 36 course units in music and music education. During the spring semester of the sophomore year, candidates complete the Upper Division Bachelor of Music Education interview and assessment. Students must pass all portions of the assessment, as well as the applied upper division jury, in order to be admitted to the Teacher Education Program and to continue into the upper division curriculum in music education.  


The Illinois Wesleyan University teacher preparation program in music addresses the content area standards established by the Illinois State Board of Education through coursework, instructional activities, and experiences associated with the major field of study.  Professional teaching standards are also met through completion of the university general education requirements, and through other coursework and activities in the Bachelor of Music Education degree. The integration of the National Core Arts Standards (NCAS) is emphasized throughout the curriculum.

Professional Affiliations

All music education students have the opportunity to participate in the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) Collegiate Chapter throughout their teacher preparation program at IWU. This professional organization offer numerous opportunities for professional development and growth through round-table discussions with local school administrators and teachers, guest speakers and musicians, as well as peer group activities. The IWU NAfME Collegiate Chapter has received many awards for outstanding achievements within the profession. Most recently, the chapter received the Chapter Growth Certificate of Achievement in 2014.

For more information, check out the Department Page

Department Faculty


Lisa Nelson, Head of the department

For almost 150 years, the School of Music at IWU has served as a training ground for ambitious string students preparing for professional careers in music and in teaching, while also providing numerous opportunities for non-majors. All string students work directly with internationally recognized faculty and prominent guest artists. The School of Music at IWU is distinguished by an exceptional degree of collaboration between students and faculty, featuring private lessons and weekly studio classes and chamber music sessions.

There are many performance opportunities available at IWU. Departmental recitals, convocations, and concerto performances are open to all students in the School of Music. While all string students participate in the Illinois Wesleyan Symphony Orchestra, other opportunities include performances with the IWU Opera Workshop, a variety of chamber ensembles, and several regional professional symphonies.

Graduates of the IWU School of Music string department have gone on to graduate studies at the most prestigious schools in the country. Alumni of our programs are now successful as professional performers, and educators at the elementary, secondary and collegiate levels.

Department Faculty

Winds, Brass & Percussion

William West, Head of the Woodwind department
Ed Risinger, Head of the Brass & Percussion department

The School of Music at IWU offers a wide range of ensemble experiences for wind and percussion students. Musical organizations on campus are open to all students, regardless of major. Illinois Wesleyan Symphony OrchestraWind Ensemble, or Symphonic Winds are auditioned ensembles, with auditions taking place at the beginning of each academic year. There are also numerous chamber music opportunities, including woodwind quintets, brass quartets and quintets, like-instrument ensembles, and percussion ensemble.  Each of these ensembles present concerts throughout the year. Titan Band, an activity band which performs at home sporting events, is also open to all students.

The jazz program offers numerous opportunities for students with an interest in developing their skills in jazz performance. The Jazz Ensemble is the top jazz group and is open to all students on campus through an audition process at the beginning of each academic year. There is also a Jazz Lab Band that does not require an audition. Some students, especially music education majors, may choose to participate in Jazz Lab Band on a secondary instrument, gaining valuable experience for when they teach. Jazz combos are also available each semester. These small groups provide entertainment for events on campus and in clubs and other venues throughout the region.

Other performing opportunities include master classes and studio classes with individual studio teachers, workshops with visiting soloists and guests, and frequent departmental recitals. All degree candidates are eligible to present solo recitals during their junior and/or senior year. All recitals and juries are accompanied free of charge by a professional accompanist.

An added bonus available at IWU is the deep personal attention our students receive as a result of the low faculty/student ratio, and of our faculty’s commitment to the individual student.



November 4, 2023 | 9:00 AM-4:00 PM


Join us for a day celebrating all things brass! Our fantastic brass faculty will offer group classes and special topic lectures, in addition to our 2023 Guest Artist, Hugo Saavedra, trombone in the Chicago Civic Orchestra and Chicagoland educator. Additionally, participants are invited to join the IWU Wind Ensemble that evening to perform three works:

Earthscape by David Marlatt, featuring Prof. Ryan Hobbs on flugelhorn

Of Our New Day Begun by Omar Thomas

Americans We by Henry Fillmore

Open to all ages and experience levels and only a $25 participation fee, which will cover all activities throughout the day, as well as a light breakfast and lunch on campus. Please join us and register here

*for any questions regarding this event, please email Logan Campbell:



February 10, 2024 | 9:00 AM-4:00 PM

Department Faculty

Voice & Choral

Ingrid Kammin, Head of the department
Advice to Young Singers

Videos: Voice Recitals


Under the guidance of dedicated and knowledgeable faculty in Illinois Wesleyan's voice and choral department, students are encouraged to achieve their potential and to prepare themselves for professional life.

Vocal ensembles at Illinois Wesleyan include Collegiate ChoirChamber Singers, and University Choir under the direction of Dr. J. Scott Ferguson. IWU also features student-led men’s and women’s a cappella groups,  Suspended  and A Touch of Class  respectively, which perform regularly on campus and in the surrounding community. Suspended has performed in Japan and has produced albums. It also makes an annual recruitment tour throughout Illinois.

Opera Workshop, directed by Prof. Robert Mangialardi, offers invaluable stage experience to undergraduate students interested in pursuing a career in this genre. Classes with emphasis on vocal training include Vocal Techniques and Vocal Pedagogy. Departmental and solo recitals afford students additional experience in a more formal setting.

We invite prospective students to visit our campus and observe classes, rehearsals, voice lessons, or talk with faculty. Those interested in auditioning for admittance to the School of Music should contact Laura Dolan for information regarding the audition process.

Department Faculty