Welcome, new and returning members! Please read the following information carefully and completely.

(Updated August 18, scroll down for FAQ)

The Wind Symphony is currently planning to make music this fall in both in-person and remote settings. Although we will meet on campus, we will also provide remote access and additional learning activities for students who are off campus or are in Ithaca but in quarantine/isolation. Beginning in mid-October, all learning will be held online. Rather than one large ensemble (typically 60-65 players), we will offer multiple chamber ensembles that will rehearse on a rotating schedule. Musical selections will include:

  • George Gershwin, Rhapsody in Blue, with pianist Xak Bjerken
  • Scott Joplin, Overture to Treemonisha
  • Richard Strauss, Serenade for Winds, Op. 7
  • Kurt Weill, Suite from The Threepenny Opera

Click here to view the full fall semester schedule, topics, and list of guest speakers.

The safety of every member of the ensemble will be of paramount importance. We will not rehearse in Lincoln Hall; instead, we will meet in a large (80×40 ft.) open-sided tent professionally installed on the Arts Quad. The tent will be equipped with a floor, overhead lighting, and heating. All musicians will be expected to adhere to strict guidelines with respect to musicians’ masks and instrument bell covers (provided by the ensemble), enhanced distancing, and post-rehearsal cleaning. All rules and procedures will be posted in the course syllabus.

Successful applicants will be placed in one of the following ensembles based on instrumentation, audition results, and availability.

  • Music 3631, Wind Symphony – M, W; 6:20-7:20pm
  • Music 3701, Performing Chamber Wind Music – M,W; 7:30-8:40pm

Ensembles will be project-based; they will rehearse specific musical selections in preparation for a final concert. Each piece may not involve every member, and members will rotate so everyone has equal opportunity.

In-person rehearsals will be complemented by online sectionals. We will use JackTrip low-latency collaboration software, which has been adapted and modified specifically for our use. The software is free and open-source, and all members of the ensemble will receive detailed installation and operating instructions. 

The Cornell Wind Symphony is leading a consortium of university ensembles in commissioning a substantial new work from A.D. White Professor-at-Large Wynton Marsalis. The Wind Symphony is scheduled to premiere the work in the fall of 2021, and will discuss the project with Professor Marsalis this semester via web conference.

Community Engagement

In addition to making music, the Wind Symphony is committed to community engagement. This year, we will continue our longstanding partnership with the Holy Trinity School of Music and RAM, based in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Our activities will include online lessons, interactions between members of the organizations, and guest speakers from Haiti and the Haitian-U.S. diaspora. A series of lectures will discuss the racialization of Haitian Vodou and musical elements of Vodou, Rara, and Mizik Rasin (Haitian Roots Music).

As we return to campus, we must remember that this is a time for reflection, introspection, and action. Recent events in the U.S. have sent ripples through society and highlighted a long history of racism and oppression of Black, Brown, and Indigenous people in this country. At the same time, crises stemming from the Covid-19 pandemic have exacerbated global systems of injustice and inequality. 

President Pollack recently issued a statement announcing a university-wide plan designed to strengthen and support the Cornell community. The Wind Symphony will follow her lead and aspire to create positive change on our campus and beyond. We have a responsibility to thoughtfully consider our ensemble mission; and to carefully re-examine our goals, initiatives, musical selections, and ensemble culture. 

What can you do to get started? 

  • This fall, we will participate in the Campus Community Book Read of How to Be an Antiracist, by Ibram X. Kendi. Please feel free to add it to your summer reading list. (The book is free for students through the Cornell Store.)
  • Consider submitting anonymous suggestions, question, or concerns through this Google form.


All 2020-2021 auditions will be held online. 

To audition, please fill out this google form. Unlike in previous years, you will not need to have a cuwinds.com account. Audition recordings are due no later than 11:59pm on Monday, August 31. 

If you do not have access to your instrument, please contact Dr. James Spinazzola at jms862 {at} cornell(.)edu. We will do all we can to help you participate in the ensemble. Percussionists: Please first read the following instructions.

Audition results and rehearsal instructions will be posted on the About Us page of this website no later than 8am on the first day of classes.

Woodwinds, Brass, Piano, and Double Bass

  • Prepare two contrasting selections that reflect your current repertoire and level of ability. Include a selection or movement in a slow tempo, and another in a lively tempo. Try to demonstrate your tone quality, technique, musicality, and range. Please also prepare the following scales:
    • Woodwinds: A chromatic scale, slurred, through your full comfortable range; and three major scales of your choice in at least 2 octaves, 3 if possible. (Any tempo and style is fine.) You need not state the key of each scale.
    • Brass and Double Bass: Three major scales of your choice in at least 2 octaves, 3 if possible. (Any tempo and style is fine.) You need not state the key of each scale.
    •  Piano: Scales are not required.


If you have access to instruments, prepare one selection demonstrating your technique and control on each of the following instruments that you play: snare drum, xylophone or marimba, timpani, and/or drum set. If you do not have an instrument, please try to find a creative solution. Do you favor the snare drum? Play a snare excerpt on a practice pad or tabletop. Do you play a mallet instrument and also piano? If you do not have access to the instrument, consider preparing a selection on the piano. Please contact Dr. James Spinazzola at jms862 {at} cornell(.)edu if you have any questions.

Guidelines for All Applicants

  • Start your video by stating your full legal name and your preferred name, if applicable. 
  • State the names of the pieces you will perform. If you are not performing the entire piece, specify the selected passage(s) (e.g., beginning through the end of the exposition).
  • Record your audition in one take (no editing or stopping), and try to use high-quality audio and video recording equipment. (Consider testing your devices. For example, the microphone on your computer might be superior to the one on your phone.) Do not add effects such as reverb. 
  • Dress casually but professionally.
  • The video should be either solo or with a keyboard accompanist. Do not submit recordings with larger ensembles.
  • Use a tripod or similar arrangement (e.g., a stack of books) to raise the camera and provide steady footage, and check to be sure the view is not blocked by a music stand.
  • If you share your video with Google Drive, ensure the sharing option is set so “anyone with the link” can view it. If you choose to use YouTube, set your video to Unlisted so we may use the link to view it. We are unable to access videos set to Private. 
  • Before submitting your video, preview it and/or send it to a friend or family member.  Please also access the link while logged out of your account to ensure we will be able to view it.

Following is a sample audition video recorded by CU Winds president James P.

Don’t wait until the last minute to submit your video, and please don’t stress about it. Its sole purpose is to help us evaluate your current level of musical ability. Simply do your best, and we’ll do the rest!


  • Q: What if I plan to stay at home and learn remotely in the fall?
  • A: Submit your audition video and you will be considered for the fall and spring semester. You will also be eligible to participate in the Wind Symphony’s online activities during the fall semester, for which you may register for one credit.
  • Q: I have questions about the Wind Symphony and Covid-19 protocols.
  • A: If you have any questions or concerns, email James Spinazzola (jms862 {at} cornell(.)edu) using your Cornell NetID.
  • Q: Will we need concert dress this semester?
  • A: No. Following is the dress code for our performance: black long-sleeve shirt or blouse, black pants (denim is fine) or floor-length skirt, black socks or hose, and black shoes or closed-toe sandals (no athletic shoes).