Area of Music

Founded on a rich musical heritage and maintained by an outstanding and supportive music faculty, the music program at Milligan seeks to produce life-long learners and lovers of music, as well as accomplished performers and avid music consumers.

Music students perform and tour with numerous ensembles, orchestras, bands, and choirs. They tour the U.S., opening jazz festivals, presenting world premieres, performing with internationally renowned composers and musicians with regional symphonies, and studying at the Contemporary Music Center in Nashville.

Students can pursue music in a variety of degree programs including music education, performance, jazz studies, music business, and music ministry. Milligan students in other majors can also elect music courses to enrich their liberal arts education and participate in the many vocal and instrumental ensembles offered.

Milligan music graduates teach at all levels of music education, serve in music ministry positions, conduct professional music organizations, teach studio music, and perform professionally. Graduates of the music area have pursued further music studies at institutions throughout the United States and abroad.


Concert Choir

Noah DeLong, Conductor
The Milligan College Concert Choir is an auditioned ensemble that performs extensively on campus and throughout Northeast Tennessee and whose members represent a variety of majors from throughout the student body.

In its past, the choir has sung at the invitation of the President at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, DC. The choir travels frequently throughout the United States, most recently touring through Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia in the spring of 2013.

The choir has also toured throughout England, with special performances in Coventry Cathedral and in the Civic Centre of the City of Birmingham. In addition, the choir has been invited to sing at the North American Christian Convention, the International Conference on Missions, at the Tennessee State Convention of the American Choral Directors’ Association, and the choir frequently collaborates with the Johnson City Symphony Orchestra and the Symphony of the Mountains.

Women’s Chorale

Anne Elliott, Conductor

Milligan Women’s Chorale is a women’s ensemble singing various styles of music and performing on and off campus. Continuing in Milligan’s strong tradition of women’s vocal ensembles, the Milligan Women’s Chorale was founded in Fall 2008. The chorale performs literature of different styles ranging from sacred to popular. The chorale performs for churches and various organizations in the Tri-Cities area. The ensemble is open to all female students.

Brass Ensemble

Rick Simerly, Conductor

Brass Ensemble is an instrumental ensemble for brass instruments devoted to the study and performance of literature written specifically for brass. The group regularly performs at the annual Milligan Christmas Concert and throughout the region.

Jazz Ensemble

Rick Simerly, Director

The Milligan College Jazz Ensemble is an organization devoted to the performance of jazz and pop styles with emphasis on ensemble playing, solo playing, and improvisation. Membership is by audition. The group presents one concert each semester and has performed at the Grove Park Jazz Festival (the opener for Ellis Marsalis), and most recently at the Kennedy Center American College Theater Region IV Festival in Americus, GA. In combination with the Milligan College Theatre Department, they performed an original musical, The Gospel According To Jazz.

Jazz Combo

Rick Simerly, Director

Jazz Combo is the study of jazz and pop styles for small ensembles with emphasis on ensemble playing, solo playing and improvisation as it relates to small group performance.


Dr. Kellie D. Brown, Conductor

The Milligan College Orchestra performs throughout East Tennessee and Southwest Virginia and collaborates frequently with professional ensembles and arts organizations, including The Civic Chorale, the Johnson City Symphony Orchestra, the East Tennessee Regional Symphony, Mountain Empire Children’s Choir Academy, and the City Youth Ballet. In addition, MCO is the pit orchestra for various opera and musical productions at Milligan College and serves local churches in ministry. The orchestra also champions new works and has performed the world premieres of numerous pieces including Three Genres by John Grubb and Genesis by internationally renowned composer Kenton Coe.

String Quartet

Cheryl Fitzgerald, Director

The Milligan College String Quartet is an auditioned chamber group featuring the college’s premier string players. In addition to performing frequently on Milligan’s campus, this group is also featured throughout East Tennessee and Southwest Virginia.

Civic Band & Johnson City Symphony Orchestra

Civic Band provides students a performance opportunity with the Johnson City Community Concert Band. The Johnson City Symphony Orchestra provides students an opportunity to perform with a community orchestra.


Noah DeLong, Director

Heritage is select a cappella ensemble of eight singers that maintains an active travel and performance schedule. The group, which was founded in 1983, frequently represents the college at churches, civic organizations, and college functions. Specializing in a wide variety of a cappella music, the group performs everything from modern worship music to Broadway, pop a cappella, spirituals, and vocal jazz. Contact Kit Dotson to book Heritage to perform at your church or organization.

Heard Mentality

Dr. Charlotte Anderson, Director

Heard Mentality is an elite, auditioned men’s a cappella ensemble. They began in 2007 with barbershop and gospel, and now also sing jazz, be-bop, some early music, and traditional men’s glee. They sing for churches, various organizations and functions and sell Singing Valentines every February 14.


Music scholarships are available by audition to new students and transfer students and are awarded according to talent, academic achievement, and need. Both non-majors and music majors are eligible, with priority given to those wishing to major in music, music business, or music education.

Steps to Apply

  1. Complete your admissions application to Milligan.
  2. Complete the music scholarship application. The application is available in our application portal after you submit an application for admission.
  3. Following completion of both applications, please contact Rita Myers, music secretary, at 423.461.8723, to schedule an audition time. See audition details below.

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Music Audition Information

Audition dates: 

  • February 26
  • March 18

The music audition is a time to showcase your talent and hard work to the music faculty and to be considered for scholarship awards. Auditions are formal events in which we want to hear two of your most polished pieces and have a brief interview with you. The two audition pieces should be of contrasting style (Ex. Bach and Schumann; art song and musical theater, etc.) and should be chosen from standard repertoire (see specifics below). Accompanists will be provided for vocalists (No pre-recorded accompaniment is allowed.). Instrumentalists will perform unaccompanied.

The overall impression is important so please dress as you would for a recital or special school performance. We prefer that you audition in person, but if a personal audition is not possible, you may audition by DVD or YouTube link.

Selecting Audition Repertoire

Prospective Pianists and Instrumentalists should perform two pieces of contrasting styles and musical periods from the following periods:

  • Baroque (Bach, Handel)
  • Classical (Beethoven, Mozart, Haydn)
  • Romantic (Schumann, Chopin, Franck)
  • Modern (Debussy, Bartok, Prokofiev, Hindemith)

Prospective Vocalists should perform material from two of the following categories:

  • German Lieder
  • French art songs
  • American or English art songs
  • Broadway/musical theater songs
  • Italian bel canto songs

Prospective Organists should perform a hymn, as you would play it for a congregation to sing, including introduction and all stanzas. You will also perform at least two other organ selections, and one selection to play on the piano.

Calendar of Events

Feb 12 @ 7:30 pm George Walker Auditorium
In a festive candlelit atmosphere, this cabaret-style event will feature vocal and instrumental music in the Valentine theme of love and romance combined with a delicious dessert buffet. Tickets for table seating are $15 each.[...]
Feb 21 @ 3:00 pm McGlothlin-Street Theatre
In honor of Milligan’s sesquicentennial, internationally-renown guitar virtuosi Dr. Douglas James and Pasquale Rucco will present a recital of music from the period of Milligan’s founding. These performers first met and became friends at guitar[...]
Feb 23 @ 7:00 pm George Walker Auditorium
Feb 26 @ 2:00 pm Seeger Memorial Chapel
Mar 18 @ 2:00 pm – 5:30 pm Seeger Memorial Chapel
Mar 19 @ 7:00 pm Mary B. Martin Auditorium
The Milligan College Concert Choir and Orchestra, with special guests The Civic Chorale and the East Tennessee Children’s Choir, present a moving setting of the Stabat Mater by contemporary British composer Cecilia McDowall. This powerful[...]
Apr 2 @ 7:30 pm George Walker Auditorium
In the debut of her one-woman show, Milligan senior Laura Mixon will be portraying musical characters of all ages, from a precocious four-year-old to a wizened crone. Come enjoy an evening full of laughter and[...]
Apr 5 @ 7:00 pm George Walker Auditorium
Apr 16 @ 7:30 pm Mary B. Martin Auditorium
The Milligan Orchestra, directed by Professor of Music Dr. Kellie Brown, will conclude its season with a spring concert celebrating the sounds and colors of music from around the world, including Japan, Egypt, and France.[...]
Apr 21 @ 9:00 pm SUB7
The Milligan Jazz Combo will present a spring concert highlighting songs especially selected for the sesquicentennial celebration. These songs will feature improvisational stylings of each combo member in the unique atmosphere of Sub7.
Apr 22 @ 7:30 pm Mary B. Martin Auditorium
The Milligan Concert Choir and Women’s Chorale, under the direction of Noah DeLong and Anne Elliott, will share the stage to present a special sesquicentennial event. This concert will feature a diverse array of sacred[...]
Apr 25 @ 7:30 pm Mary B. Martin Auditorium
April is “Jazz Appreciation Month” and the Milligan Jazz Ensemble will celebrate with a spring concert. The event will feature a very special guest artist to be announced. Come join the ensemble for an evening[...]
Apr 30 @ 7:30 pm McGlothlin-Street Theatre
As Milligan looks back on its long history, the college’s a cappella groups will take listeners on a nostalgic journey of popular songs from decades past. The concert will feature performances by Heard Mentality, the[...]

Music Faculty