Orchestra conductor Mark Mandarano is new to Macalester, but he already knows that Mac students are enthusiastic about exploring many interests. For the more than 50 students in his orchestra, music is an essential piece of that exploration.
But for most of them, it’s not the only part—and that’s just fine with Mandarano. As he explains, the orchestra allows students to take music as seriously as they want to. “There are a lot of paths for people who have diverse interests, for people who take music seriously but want to explore things like literature and chemistry,” Mandarano says. “Mac students are fully engaged. There are those who are involved in many things—football, track, other clubs—in addition to those who are music majors or minors.”
“There are a lot of paths for people who have diverse interests, for people who take music seriously but want to explore things like literature and chemistry,” Mandarano says. “Mac students are fully engaged.”
One of those music majors, Sam Tygiel ’13 (San Francisco), says the combination of students creates a good group dynamic. “It’s an interesting mix of musicians and talents—you have people who are honing their craft and people who are just doing it for fun,” says Tygiel, who balances orchestra, flute ensemble, and thrice-weekly lessons with the rest of his coursework. “There’s a fun atmosphere, but we’re trying to turn that into a polished product, too. Orchestral music isn’t something you do if you don’t want to do it well.”
In addition to adjusting to Mandarano’s conducting style, students tackled a fall concert repertoire that included works by Schubert, Beethoven, Bach, Martinu, and Dvorak. This was also their first semester rehearsing and performing in the newly renovated and expanded music building. “It’s a spectacular, state-of-the-art, gorgeous facility, with more than enough room and resources,” Mandarano says. “It has everything you could want.”