World Ensembles

Coached by Taoufik Ben-Amor

The Columbia Arab Music Ensemble (CAME) is a performance ensemble devoted to vocal and instrumental music from the Arab region. The group's repertoire, taught through oral transmission and memorization, includes songs and instrumental pieces from folk, popular, and classical genres of the region, emphasizing Maqam structure, rhythm cycles, genres, performance practices and poetic content. Undergraduate students may enroll in the ensemble for credit but CAME is open to both beginning and experienced musicians from Columbia's undergraduate, graduate, faculty, and staff communities. Auditions are held during the first ensemble meeting in the fall. CAME is a collaboration between the Center for Ethnomusicology in the Music department and the MESAAS department. 

For more information, contact Taoufik Ben-Amor at [email protected] 

Coached by James Kerr

Columbia's bluegrass ensemble was founded at Columbia in 2004 and has achieved a strong reputation on campus and in the community. They play at many campus functions throughout the year as well as neighborhood venues.

The Bluegrass ensemble introduces students to specific non-western and non-classical styles and cultures through active participation in group lessons and rehearsal, culminating each semester in at least one public performance. The Bluegrass ensemble meets once a week for two hours and is open to musicians of all levels. To participate, students must play a bluegrass-specific instrument such as acoustic guitar, mandolin, banjo, fiddle (violin), bass, or dobro. Each musician must be willing to participate as a vocalist in either a lead or harmony capacity. Some experience singing vocal harmony is a plus. The class works on 8-10 songs and instrumentals drawn from the traditional and contemporary bluegrass repertoire each semester. The songs and instrumentals are taught by ear and with chord charts, no formal training or sight reading ability is necessary. The class works together on music each on music each week by learning the vocal harmonies, solos, arrangements, and rehearsing the material. James Kerr, the instructor and coach, is a professional bluegrass dobro player and classical guitarist who has a extensive performing career. The ensemble offers a unique opportunity to learn from and perform with a bluegrass professional in a fun and casual setting. Auditions are held in the fall.

For more information, contact James Kerr at [email protected]

Coached by Alicia "Lish" Lindsey for Gagaku, Elizabeth Brown for Hogaku (Shakuhachi instrument only) and Yumi Kurosawa for Hogaku (Koto instrument only)

The Japanese Gagaku/Hogaku Program, a unique offering at Columbia, is a joint initiative of the Department of Music, the Music Performance Program, the Center for Ethnomusicology and the IMJS: Japanese Cultural Heritage Initiatives.

For students in either ensemble, weekly rehearsal attendance and individual practice are required for all members. There will be several public performances during the academic year and summer mentorship opportunities in Tokyo.

Students will be supplied with excellent instruments. Some musical background (wind or string instruments, especially) is preferred.

For more information, contact the IMJS: Japanese Cultural Heritage Initiatives.

Coached by Jeff Warschauer

Klezmer is Jewish folk/dance music whose roots lie in Eastern Europe of long ago. The Columbia Klezmer Ensemble was founded in 2000 and is directed by Jeff Warschauer, who is internationally renowned as a klezmer instrumentalist, Yiddish singer and educator. Auditions will take place during the first week of fall semester only.

For more information, contact Jeff Warschauer at [email protected]

Class meets on Wednesdays from 07:30 - 9:00 pm.

Coached by Vince Cherico and Leo Traversa

Each semester, the Latin American Music Ensemble focuses on a different Latin music tradition.

  • Afro-Cuban Ensemble meets in the Fall
  • Brazilian Ensemble meets in the Spring

Students wishing to participate in these ensembles must sign up for an audition during the Fall Jazz auditions.

For more information, contact Beth Pratt, MPP Coordinator at [email protected].