By Kristine Olson Craft
My first class at Mac was at 8 a.m. on the third floor of Old Main. The professor was William Thompson. Although the subject was literature he brought in examples of art and music (LP's played very loudly) from the time period we were studying. He had a reputation for being a tough prof but I signed up for a second class from him. I think it was the music. Wagner can wake you up at 8 a.m.!
I enjoyed playing in the band under the direction of Herman Straka. I will never forget Mr. Straka serenading us with a violin solo, playing the Strauss waltz "Roses From the South" at the tea given for seniors in August of '59
The band played at the opening of the new field house addition to the old gym. This may have been the occasion when we heard a speech by the Nobel prize winning physicist, Nils Bohr.
I remember being in the student union listening to a speech given by the composer and president of Juilliard, William Schuman. We had played some of his music in the band. What impressed me most was his statement, “We need science to survive; we need the arts to live."
Singing loud and proud
By Jan Rubin Smed
The choir was also very important. Mr. Ian Morton made us work hard but it was always worth it as it made us proud to be a part of the Macalester Choir. Singing in both the Big and Little Choir with the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra with Antal Dorati conducting was a thrill.
Performing Beethoven's Ninth
By Patricia Walling Berquist
I remember singing Beethoven's Ninth with the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra. It remains my favorite symphony to this day.
Singing Stravinsky's Persephone
By Joyce A. Mickelson Nelson
Because I started college as a music major, I auditioned that first fall for all the musical organizations, including one called Persephone Choir. This turned out to be a group of singers who were willing to give up their Thanksgiving vacations to perform with the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra. This was a memorable experience for me for several reasons. It was my first opportunity to sing with a major orchestra, and my introduction to Schonberg and to Stravinsky, whose composition, Persephone, was a melodrama in three parts for orchestra, chorus, dance, and spoken word. This was heady stuff for a freshman from a small school in rural Minnesota. The concert was at Northrup Auditorium at the University of Minnesota on Friday, November 23, 1956.
Triumph #2: Playing for a maestro
By Barbara Nelson Fredrickson
One quarter, when the Macalester Concert Choir was scheduled to perform with the Minneapolis (now Minnesota) Symphony, I was the rehearsal accompanist. Working with Professor Ian Morton was a pleasure; however, the last rehearsals would be directed by Antal Dorati, then conductor of the Symphony. Earned or unearned, Maestro Dorato had the reputation of being temperamental. I lived in dread of working with him. But when the time came, somehow I kept my nerves under control, and the Maestro treated this amateur — and the choir — with respect.
Hearing the big band
By John F. Roschen
My roommate and I decided to go to a movie at the Grandview Theater one Friday evening in late October. Walking back toward campus, we heard a band playing and noticed the lights were on at the football field. To our delight, we discovered the University of Michigan’s highly touted marching band practicing its half-time show for the next day’s Big Ten game at Memorial Stadium. What a contrast to our little rag-tag 29-piece Macalester band that would stand in the end zone and play a pretty standard rendition of the National Anthem before the opening kick-off.
By John F. Roschen
One year a small group of us formed a pep-band that played at all home and some away basketball games. I remember that we travelled to Winona for the St. Mary’s game and to Collegeville for the St. John’s game. At both places we were the only Mac spectator presence, and at St. John’s the continual chant “Go, Johnnies, go!” made it virtually impossible for us to penetrate the high decibel level in the field house. [See Mac Weekly archives, March 8, 1957, page 4, for a photo]