So Pops was a great part of your Michigan experience, but you want to keep on playing. Now what?  

Browse the alumni-recommended opportunities below to participate in a musical group near you.

Email us at to contribute an opportunity, 

and help fellow alums continue their love for musical performance!



From Kelly Compton (Pops Class of 2013):

"Hi Pops family! I would like to let all Chicago Pops alums know about some great ways to continue participating in musical groups:

CHICAGO METROPOLITAN SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA: I was a member of this orchestra and am happy to answer questions for anyone interested in joining/auditioning. I know that the CMSO schedules auditions throughout the year so anyone interested can always apply to join.  


Northwestern Memorial Hospital "MUSIC MATTERS" program: This is a program where you can play/perform for patients at Northwestern Hospital in downtown Chicago. I LOVED the Music Matters program at Northwestern, it is a really easy way to get involved and do something positive for the community."


From Eric Wang (Pops Class of 2017):

"I'm currently a part of the LAKEVIEW ORCHESTRA in Chicago. We're an orchestra with a size of about 50-60 players, and we have concerts roughly once a month from October to June. Our concerts are typically 75 or so minutes of music each, usually consisting of some large work and some smaller works (for example for our November 2017 concert we played the Carl Reinecke flute concerto, followed by Tchaikovsky's 5th Symphony). Our members range in age from being fresh out of college to retirement age, and come from all different kinds of professional backgrounds, from doctors and lawyers to music educators. 


Aside from the great people I've met and great musical (and social!) experiences I've already had as part of the Lakeview Orchestra, a big reason I enjoy being in this ensemble is the intensity of our concert schedule. Learning new music for a concert every month is not easy, and definitely requires time outside of rehearsal to get right. That being said, this means there's never a dull moment in rehearsal, and there's never time for us to play music so much that it gets stale."


From Jessica (Barker) Clark (Pops Class of 2004):

A few members recently went to Munich to play with our partner orchestra, after the conductor came to do a concert with us!

A few members recently went to Munich to play with our partner orchestra, after the conductor came to do a concert with us!

"The DENVER PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA is a community ensemble that rehearses and performs in downtown Denver. I am currently playing clarinet and Eb clarinet in my third season with them and really love the group as a whole. This ensemble has a wonderful following of community members who come to every concert, and a board that is dedicated to getting the word out about DPO. Overall, a great group of musicians."



From Roxanne Ilagan (Pops Class of 2017):

"Hi fellow Popsicles! I've been a member of the DETROIT MEDICAL ORCHESTRA for more than a year now. It's a non-profit community orchestra that is associated with Wayne State's Medical School and all of the proceeds from our concerts go towards charities in Detroit. Although many of our musicians are involved in the health sciences, all are welcome to audition!"


From Ben Cher (Pops Class of 2017):

"DETROIT MEDICAL ORCHESTRA is affiliated with Wayne State University School of Medicine but membership is open to anybody in the Detroit area. Affiliation with a health profession is encouraged but definitely not mandatory. The orchestra rehearses once a week (usually Sunday night) and performs three concerts during the year. The orchestra is a great community (not quite like Pops, of course!) full of students, young professionals, and old fogies alike. Many Pops members, including myself, have performed with the orchestra through the years. In the past, the orchestra has been conducted primarily by graduates of Kenneth Kiesler's conducting studio (just like Pops), but the current conductor is Bill Milicevic, a beloved high-school orchestra conductor from the Detroit area. I have had some great memories playing with the group, and I am sure you will too!"


From Peter Walle (Pops Class of 2013):

DETROIT PARTY MARCHING BAND: "I've heard that it's a really fun time for folks who want to get out into the community, play jazz/funk i.e. LOUD music at Detroit street festivals and every once in a while a bar or two - pretty sure it's an all volunteer org but again, I've heard nothing but good things!"


Contact HEATHER WOOD at to inquire about joining. All wind, brass, and percussion welcome!


From Tharron Combs (Pops Class of 2016):

"The DETROIT CHAMBER ORCHESTRA is a young professional ensemble based in the Detroit Area which presents engaging and accessibly performances to the public throughout the year.

If you're interested in becoming part of the DCO, email us at with your name, instrument, phone number, and previous orchestral experience. I enjoy playing in the DSO because it's a relaxed but professional atmosphere that allows me to continue playing in my post-college life."


FROM MARANDA DISCENNA (Pops Class of 2017):

"SPECTRUM ORCHESTRA! Rehearsals are in Beverly Hills, MI at Northbrook Presbyterian Church. It's a small, local orchestra, and it's great for people living in metro Detroit! There is a 'pay for play' fee, but as long as you help publicize concerts or help set up for rehearsals, they'll waive the fee."




From Alan Ruan (Pops Class of 2016):


"Indianapolis has a lot of orchestras, bands, and choirs. I play in the PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA OF INDIANAPOLIS, which is a community orchestra of about 70 people, and it's actually pretty similar to the Pops Orchestra. Everyone there has other jobs like being a nurse, a lawyer, or a web designer, but everyone has the desire to continue playing music even after college. We have 5 concerts a year and play a variety of music from classical, to movie soundtracks, to gospel, and also some contemporary music. The orchestra is also involved with local high schools and will play alongside their orchestras for a concert every year. Also the orchestra offers a tuition-free music program 'Strings & Jazzy Things' for young kids who want to learn how to play music.


What I like about it is that it is a relaxed atmosphere where you can meet people in the area of and play fun music. If you have any questions about the Philharmonic or other music groups in the area feel free to reach out!"


From Amy Rusch (Pops Class of 2014):

"One of the many playing opportunities in the Triangle is the CHAPEL HILL PHILHARMONIA. This community symphony orchestra, consisting of student and adult volunteer instrumentalists, seeks to give members a chance to play in an orchestra, collaborate with local musicians, and bring classical music to the local community. Lead by a Professor of Music at UNC-CH, the Philharmonia has brought a wide classical repertoire to the Triangle through multiple free concerts over the past 35 seasons. Although members come from a wide variety of ages, occupations, and backgrounds, they are united by a love of good music." Membership is free without audition!



From Raquel Laneri (Pops Class of 2004):

"The BROOKLYN CONSERVATORY COMMUNITY ORCHESTRA was one of the first groups I joined after moving to Brooklyn. The full symphony orchestra performs a mixture of classical works (Beethoven's Seventh, Stravinsky's Firebird) and pops (John Williams' medleys, etc.).  My favorite was the annual children's concert, where we would do really fun, audience-participation version of 'Peter and the Wolf' at the Brooklyn Museum. Dorothy Savitch, the conductor, is very kind and patient, and the players are very enthusiastic."



From Shari (Rosen) Schwarzwald (Pops Class of 2009): 

"NEW YORK REPERTORY ORCHESTRA is a community orchestra in New York City. They rehearse in a beautiful church just off Times Square, and they play great music!  The level of the orchestra is very high; there are a few professional musicians but it is mostly made up of talented amateurs who take the music seriously. I loved playing in this orchestra because I got to play exciting music in a fantastic setting. At the time I was playing (2010-2012) they did not require an audition, but I don't know if that has changed."


New Jersey

From Shari (Rosen) Scharzwald (Pops Class of 2009):

"The CENTRAL JERSEY SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA is a small community orchestra in central New Jersey. They rehearse in Branchburg and have concerts all over the central Jersey area. This orchestra had a relaxed community feel, and they really made me feel welcome when I joined. I really enjoyed playing with them and making music together. They didn't require an audition as of 2016."



From Anthony Do-Hoon Kim (Pops Class of 2012):

"LA JOLLA SYMPHONY is a high level community orchestra out of UC San Diego. Worth auditioning for if there is enough time in your schedule!"



From Shari (Rosen) Schwarzwald (Pops Class of 2009):

"NOVA VISTA SYMPHONY is a community orchestra in Sunnyvale, CA. They have concerts all over the San Jose area. Joining this orchestra has been a lot of fun; they play great music at every concert and the orchestra members all really enjoy being there. We have a very enthusiastic music director and board who have been trying to expand the orchestra's community outreach program and get more people interested in classical music.  


There is a concerto competition every year for high school kids in the area, and the winner plays in a concert with us the next season. They also do an instrument 'petting zoo' every year for young kids and have provided many opportunities for us to get involved in community music events. A (very low pressure) audition is required to join."


From Alex Carney (Pops Class of 2012):

AWESOME ORCHESTRA: "Open reading sessions with a giant orchestra playing a whole variety of pops-style music. Usually set up as an informal concert at festivals, beer gardens, things like that.  ust get on their email list and sign up set by set whenever you can make it.  Open to any ability, though I'm sure pops people know that sight-reading John Williams isn't easy :)"



From Jessica (Barker) Clark (Pops Class of 2004):

"The CASCADE SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA is located north of Seattle in Edmonds, WA. Cascade is a community orchestra run by Michael Miropolsky who is a violinist with the Seattle Symphony. While playing principal clarinet with Cascade, I had the opportunity to play a lot of great repertoire including Beethoven 6 and Rimsky-Korsokov’s Capriccio Espagnol, which is music that can be taken on due to the drive and dedication of the musicians! When I moved away from Seattle, Michael asked me back to perform Copland’s Clarinet concerto which had been a dream of mine for some time. A great group with a wonderful conductor!"





From Steve Skripnik (Pops Class of 2004):

The NIH PHILHARMONIA is a volunteer orchestra housed at the NIH in Bethesda, but you don't have to work at NIH to join. I was a member of the NIH Phil for six years and played everything from Dvorak's 9th to Rite of Spring to PDQ Bach. It's a high caliber group and requires an opening and an audition to join, but the group and repertoire make it worth it. Check it out and feel free to contact me if you have any questions. 


If you are a percussionist in the DC area, let me know if you'd like other playing opportunities. I've played with a multitude of groups and reliable percussionists are always needed. Get in touch, and I'd be happy to facilitate connecting you with other percussionists and groups in the area."


GROUPMUSE is an online social network connecting musicians to local audiences through concert house parties!  

Alex Carney (Pops Class of 2012) has this to say about this growing phenomenon:

"It's basically chamber music house parties. Someone hosts in their living room, a small chamber music group comes to play in a very casual and intimate setting, everyone brings their own beer or wine, and you have a great time!


It's all free, but $10 suggested minimum donation goes direct to the musicians. The standard for playing is pretty high (tends to be a lot of recent conservatory graduates), but highly recommend going to listen, because it's great fun, and a good way to meet other music-interested people in the area. I've played a couple, and have made several friends and found other gigs through people I've met there."


CLASSICAL REVOLUTION is an organization taking music out of the concert hall and into local bars, restaurants, and galleries...over 35 chapters all across the US! 

Alex Carney (Pops Class of 2012) has this to say about the San Francisco chapter:

"Monthly or bi-weekly chamber music reading sessions at a couple bars/cafes around the bay. Different every time, sometimes someone will just bring parts they've got and throw something together with whomever shows up.


Sometimes there might something planned with maybe even a rehearsal, and every once in while Kronos quartet has been known to drop in and play a set between world premieres. I used to play a bunch of these in East Bay before disappearing to Brazil for a while; need to get back in touch with the new person who's organizing it now."