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Performing and Visual Arts

Part of any university experience of quality is the cultural richness provided by its performing and visual arts. Whether an enthusiastic novice or serious pre-professional, we provide an enormous array of artistic choices. The School of the Arts subscribes to a philosophy which seeks a balance between theory and practice, and we are justifiably proud of the large number of working artists among our faculty. Chico’s reputation as an artistic center in northern California is the result of the collective commitment by faculty, alumni, administration, and student-artists to the highest standards in every facet of the artistic experience. Though first-rate facilities help, our large appreciative audiences know that quality in the arts resides within the talent of the individual and the dedication of the ensemble.


The home of performance at Chico is the Performing Arts Center, which houses the 500-seat Harlen Adams Theatre, the 200-seat Lawrence Wismer Theatre, and the 200-seat Ruth Rowland-Taylor Recital Hall. The PAC also houses offices, classrooms, and a large number of studios and rehearsal spaces. The theaters are served by fully equipped scene and costume shops, as well as spacious make-up and dressing facilities. All of our theatres — including Chico’s 1300-seat Laxson Auditorium — possess state-of-the-art computerized lighting systems. All musical events are professionally recorded and our recording studio is the finest in the North State.


The university is home to four galleries with a wide range of exhibition calendars:

The University Gallery is located in Taylor Hall and features an exhibition calendar of contemporary and historical art work, a biennial alumni show, an annual student art show, and faculty exhibitions.

The BFA Gallery is tucked into Ayers Hall and features culminating shows for students earning the Bachelor of Fine Arts.

The Janet Turner Print Museum on the mezzanine of Laxson Auditorium curates seven exhibitions a year drawn from the collection of over 3,500 prints. The National Print Competition is held every other year with print artists from the U.S. and abroad.

The Humanities Center Gallery is located in Trinity Hall and presents an eclectic exhibition calendar of alumni, faculty, and community artists.


Our scholarship program includes awards for first-time students and continuing students. All are highly competitive and awarded on the basis of demonstrated artistic ability. Consult the Departments of Art, Music, and Theatre Arts for more information.


Truly a “town/gown” affair, the orchestra is a collection of the finest instrumentalists from both the campus and the North State. The orchestra’s season features world-class guest soloists, great standard repertoire, and exciting premieres.


The University Band features students and community players presenting a wide variety
of concert and pops music.

Wind Ensemble is a student group focusing on the best original band works and high quality transcriptions.


Trios, quartets, and quintets perform the classical masters as well as contemporary composers. Challenging and highly rewarding, these ensembles feature woodwinds, brass, low brass, and a variety of other instrumental combinations.


Interested in Latin American music? Chicovana is an ensemble of singers and instrumentalists dedicated to exploring and performing major Latin American styles of music.


The University Chorus is 150 student and community voices specializing in choral masterpieces.

The A Cappella Choir auditions student voices and focuses on a diverse repertoire of exciting vocal music from the 17th to the 21st centuries.

Chamber Singers — a select vocal ensemble — focus on innovative chamber choir literature that is varied in style and international in scope.

Gospel Choir is open to students and community singers and presents music from the American Southern Gospel tradition—from beautiful expressions of faith to exciting foot-stompin’ and hand-clappin’ gospel tunes.


The Recording Arts option fosters creative and original compositions in its “Compositions With Electronic Media” courses. Students present their works once a year in a performance that includes musicians, synthesizers, samplers, computers, sequencers, video, slides, lighting, and student dancers.


Performing music tailored to the big band sound, this ensemble features contemporary music suited to the high-powered jazz band.  Students learn to improvise, create their own charts, and double on other instruments.


From solo recitals to accompanying, keyboard players perform in a variety of settings, including chamber, recitals, and concerts with large ensembles.


This wonderful blend of music and theatre presents two productions annually as well as a variety of special performances and touring opportunities.


Student musicians audition for small pop groups that play rock, pop, country, and other music from America’s popular culture.


From the hottest new plays to the classics of world dramatic masterpieces to the best of Broadway (and off Broadway), the Theatre Arts Department’s faculty, staff, and students produce a season of eight productions, including two musicals and a dance concert. These productions offer Theatre and Musical Theatre majors, minors, and interested students from other majors a wide array of opportunities to act, sing, dance, stage-manage, build and run (and in some cases, direct, choreograph, and design) a challenging variety of performance styles, staging techniques, authors, periods, and design concepts.

Chico students excel at the American College Theatre Festival’s annual regional competition.

Students can audition for the “Off Broadways,” a musical theatre touring group, and participate in the Chico Dance Theatre. CDT offers students the chance to choreograph, as well as perform in the department’s yearly dance concert.

Court Theatre has been the highlight of our theatrical summer season for 36 years. It is the longest running summer stock theatre company in the CSU and is composed of faculty and staff, professional guest artists, and a company of student actors and technicians chosen by audition and interview. This collaborative program highlights intensive interaction and a total immersion in all aspects of theatre.


CSU Summer Arts is a multidisciplinary system-wide program offering academic credit plus a festival in the visual, performing, and literary arts. The academic component offers two- and three-week residency courses for undergraduates, graduates, and professionals in creative writing, dance, music, film, video, theatre, performance, visual arts, design, arts education, and new technology.