Music makers

For some students, music is a creative outlet. For others, it’s something that soothes and relaxes. Still others utilize it as a tool to help them stay focused.

Photography by Duane Zehr

Bradley’s music program is structured so music and non-music majors can participate and receive credit for creating melodies and harmonies without financial burden. If participation gives students more than a full course load (16 hours), they don’t have to pay fees for taking more hours to participate in a music ensemble. As a result, about 10 percent of Bradley’s 5,200 undergraduates participate in a music program, and 300 more choose to take music appreciation each year to fulfill a general education requirement. Still others attend the regular concerts and recitals, featuring both students and faculty, which are free to students.

“One of the reasons that we have such a variety of ensembles is so we can offer students opportunities that take different amounts of time,” said Dr. David Vroman, chairman of the music department. “Not all universities are able to structure the program in a way that doesn’t require students to pay for an overload. We encourage students to stay involved so they don’t come here and quit their music participation from high school.” And the possibilities are nearly endless.

BETH BOUDREAU ’12 received her degree in biochemistry in May and played the French horn in Symphonic Winds and Basketball Band all four years of college. “Music gave me a break from my biochemistry classes, and it’s nice to use the other half of my brain,” she said. 

Some students choose to minor in music, like string bass player JUSTIN OMMEN ’14. The mechanical engineering major enjoys the community and camaraderie found in the department. “There are always people hanging out; there are always people to talk to when you’re in Constance Hall,” he said. “It’s like a big family. There’s a bond that happens from being in rehearsal together four hours a week and taking classes together.” 

Jared Bartman ’10 kicked off his 2012 East Coast tour at Dingeldine Music Center, Bradley’s concert performance facility. He is accompanied by 20,000 Leagues Under the String Quartet, a string ensemble made up of students.


Visit for more information about the program, as well as a calendar of upcoming concerts and events.


The Padstow Lifeboat

Dies irae


Mozart Symphony in G Minor K

Desamours Noel ayisyin

Vaughan Williams - Let All the World

Ommen also notes the talent of the faculty. “I don’t think we as students realize what kind of talent and credentials we have at Bradley,” he said. Read about faculty involvement in the community at


Vroman conducts three of Bradley’s bands: Symphonic Winds, Symphonic Band, and Basketball Band. Basketball Band performs at men’s and women’s home games. The band travels with both teams for Missouri Valley Conference tournaments. Between semesters, the Basketball Band transforms into the Bradley Friends and Family Band, where anyone who plays an instrument is welcome to join in for a few games. “I loved that I could still play in the bands even though I am not a music major,” Boudreau said. “We played a variety of music that I enjoy, and in Basketball Band we always played the most popular tunes.”

Symphony Orchestra

The Bradley Symphony Orchestra presents four concerts a year, including a major choral-orchestral work with the Bradley Community Chorus. There are 30 strings and a full complement of winds and percussion. During the school year, the orchestra rehearses two days a week at Westminster Presbyterian Church near campus. The most advanced students from the orchestra also have the opportunity to audition for the Peoria Symphony Orchestra and receive class credit. 


Bradley boasts three jazz groups, led by associate professor Dr. Todd Kelly. The Bradley Jazz Ensemble and the Bradley Jazz Lab Band have 18 to 20 members each. The Jazz Ensemble is Bradley’s most visible jazz group; it has traveled the world, including a visit to Italy this summer. The six-member Jazz Combo learns and performs all its music by ear and focuses on improvisation. Each spring, the Bradley Jazz Festival features a world-class guest artist, three clinicians, and 15 high school bands.


Music professor Dr. John Jost is the director of choral activities, including the Chorale, the Chamber Singers, and the Community Chorus. The award-winning Chorale practices five days a week and has traveled around the United States and Europe, performing a variety of musical styles. The group has approximately 40 members. The Chamber Singers include 12 to 16 of the best voices from the Chorale. Auditions are held at the beginning of each semester. 

The Community Chorus, made up of 80 to 100 local residents and Bradley students with choral singing experience, practices one evening a week. It performs at least one masterwork each semester, either with the Bradley Symphony Orchestra or the Peoria Symphony Orchestra. 

Dr. Kerry Walters leads the 40-member Women’s Choir which practices twice a week. She also conducts opera workshops — which typically aren’t offered to undergraduates. 


Students wishing to further their study of an instrument may take lessons from music professors. Beginning classes in piano and voice are offered for students who have no musical background. For an additional fee, private lessons in bassoon, cello, guitar, organ, percussion, clarinet, voice, composition, and more are available for advanced students. 

Chamber music

A number of ensembles allow students to play in smaller, more intimate groups, and offer shorter time commitments. Small ensembles vary in size from three musicians to 15 or more and often rehearse twice a week. For example, students can form a string quartet with two violins, viola, and cello. Students can choose from Collegium Musicum, which plays medieval, renaissance, and chamber music; Peoria Lunaire, which plays new music; percussion ensemble; guitar ensemble; and several more. Faculty instructors lead the ensembles. “Each music ensemble ends up being its own little family,” said SPENCER CASTLE ’12, who received his vocal music education degree in May. “The end result is a very close-knit group of both music and non-music majors.” 

Areas of study

Bradley’s music department prepares students for a variety of careers. Graduates become private music teachers, performers, school music teachers, church musicians, music business leaders, and more. Others continue on to graduate school before embarking on careers. The music department also partners with the education and business colleges for music education and music business majors.