Purdue University has a long history of music making on the West Lafayette campus. In 1886 the Purdue University Band was established. In 1894 the Varsity Glee Club was formed. Academic courses in music began in the 1960's and in April 2021 the trustees established a music major at Purdue for the first time in its history.
Because music was not part of the initial plan for the University, music has grown in a variety of directions as needs and desires became apparent. In 1886, the band was established and the following year, Purdue began playing football. Over the years three distinct programs have emerged: Purdue University Bands and Orchestras, Purdue Musical Organizations and The Division of Music.
University Bands and Orchestras houses the Purdue All-American Marching Band, concert bands and wind ensemble, orchestras, jazz band, chamber music and applied music or private lessons. Bands and Orchestras is housed in Hagle Hall.
Purdue Musical Organizations consists of the Community Choir, Heart and Soul, Purdue Bells, Varsity Glee Club, Purduettes, University Choir and a variety of other specialty ensembles. PMO is housed in Bailey Hall.
The Department of Music offers all academic based music programs for the University. The Department of Music offers a 15-credit minor, 21-credit Certificate in Music Technology and a BA in Music with two concentrations: General Music Studies and Music Technology. There are plans for concentrations in music theory, composition and jazz studies in the near future. The Department of Music is housed in Pao Hall.
It is important to understand that these three departments or divisions are in large measure independent of each other. They frequently work together to accomplish important goals and events and to share faculty and resources.
The Department of Music is housed in both Pao Hall and the Elliott Hall of Music on the Purdue University, West Lafayette campus. Pao Hall, named for Chinese shipping magnate, the late Sir Yue-Kong Pao. Pao Hall is a $47 million, 176,000 square-foot facility that houses classrooms, theatres, galleries, labs, workshops and a recording studio for the School of Design, Art, and Performance of which music is a part. Other music classrooms and performance facilities may also be found in the Elliott Hall of Music, and the Wilmeth Active Learning Center.
The Cadenza Piano Club