Music, Theatre and Dance


Music | Theatre and Dance


The Macalester Music Department offers courses and performance opportunities in Western concert music, jazz, pop, African music, Chinese music, Scottish piping, and other musical traditions. Individual instruction at all levels and musical ensembles by audition are available for all interested students. Students may major or minor in music.


The Music Department at Macalester College aims both to celebrate music as a source of beauty and an agent for positive change and to interrogate music from critical perspectives that reveal its powerful and direct social influences. In lessons and ensembles in various traditions (Western art music, African music, Jazz, Scottish Highland, and various folk and popular musics of the world), we train students in the practical arts of music-making, with regular opportunities for recital participation, ensemble tours, master classes, and interaction with guest artists. In our varied curricular offerings, we place music within the broader context of the liberal arts, leading students to a deeper appreciation of music’s social and political status across time and space. Graduates of Macalester’s Music Department find themselves well poised to pursue graduate study at the nation’s top music schools, whether it be as performers or in an academic fields such as musicology, ethnomusicology, composition, and music theory. Other participants of the program, from the most committed to the most casual, leave Macalester’s Music Department enriched by their experiences making music and thinking more imaginatively about the many roles that music plays in their lives and in the world around them.


Full-Time Faculty

• Victoria Malawey, Associate Professor and Chair (theory)

• Randall Bauer, Associate Professor (theory/composition)

• Mark Mandarano, Assistant Professor and Director of Instrumental Activities (instrumental conducting and theory/composition)

• Mark Mazullo, Professor (musicology and piano)

• Michael McGaghie, Assistant Professor and Director of Choral Activities-on leave Spring 2016

• Laura Nichols, Visiting Assistant Professor

• Chuen-Fung Wong, Associate Professor (ethnomusicology) - on leave Fall 2015

Continuing Full-Time Staff

• Sowah Mensah, Director of the African Music Ensemble

• Mike Breidenbach, Director of Piping

• Rachel Hest, Music Department Coordinator

Continuing Part-Time Staff

• Joan Griffith, Director of Mac Jazz

• Peter Hennig, Director of Jazz and Pop Combos

• Clea Galhano, Director of Early Music Ensemble

• Lydia Brosnahan, Concert Supervisor

back to top

Macalester Music Ensembles

These groups are open to both music majors and non-majors. Auditions for incoming students are generally held during Orientation week, and auditions for returning students are held the first week of classes. 


Auditions for most ensembles are held during Orientation Week. (More specific information will be available on the Music Department website as Orientation nears.) Audition sign-up sheets will be available in the Music Department office, M201, starting Friday, August 28.

African Music Ensemble
The Macalester African Music Ensemble performs traditional African music primarily from Ghana, but also from Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Guinea, The Gambia, Kenya, and Tanzania. In addition to singing, the Ensemble performs with a variety of African instruments including xylophones, marimbas, flutes, horns, an assortment of drums and gourds. The 40-member ensemble is open to all members of the Macalester College community. Auditions are held once a year in September after classes begin; no prior experience in African music is required. Directed by Sowah Mensah. African Music Ensemble rehearses Mondays and Wednesdays 5 – 7pm and Tuesdays and Thursdays 6:30 – 9:00pm in M116 (Crawford Hall).

Chamber Music Ensembles
Directed by Mark Mandarano and coached by faculty and studio instructors, these ensembles include groups such as String Quartets, Woodwind Quintet, Brass Sextet, Trombone Choir, Flute Ensemble, Saxophone Ensemble. The ensembles perform in Thursday noon recitals and in concerts several times per year. Chamber Music Ensemble rehearsals are arranged according to the schedules of the participants and coaches.

Concert Choir
The Macalester Concert Choir is a chamber mixed ensemble open to all students at the College. The singers in the Concert Choir are full-time, undergraduate music and non-music major students committed to innovative and quality performances and community outreach through choral music. Repertoire of the choir includes both a capella and accompanied Western and Non-Western vocal traditions. The Macalester College Concert Choir tours annually throughout the United States or abroad. Past international tours have included Japan, Scotland, Poland, Costa Rica and other countries throughout the world. Directed by Michael McGaghie. Membership is based on an audition and callback. The Concert Choir rehearses Mondays, Wednesday, and Thursdays 4:45 – 6:15 pm in M113 (Hewitt Hall).

Macalester Chorale

The Macalester Chorale is a large mixed ensemble open to all students interested in singing at Macalester. Likened to the Renaissance "camerata" which was made up of musicians, poets, intellectuals, and humanists, this group reflects the diverse interests and talents represented here on campus. The music of the ensemble will include such styles as classical, folk, and pop. In addition, each year the choir will combine with other Macalester Choirs to perform a major work. Past works have included: Mozart's Requiem, Stravinsky's Symphony of Psalms, Vivaldi's Magnificat. And Orff’s Carmina Burana. Consideration for this group will be based on balance of parts and the ability to match pitch. Highland rehearses Tuesdays 4:45–6:15 and Thursdays 6:30–7:30pm in M113 (Hewitt Hall).

Early Music Ensemble
This ensemble specializes in instrumental and vocal music from the Medieval period through the Baroque, with occasional contemporary pieces. Macalester owns a large collection of viols, recorders, crumhorns, kortholts, flutes, harpsichord, psaltry, rebec, cornetto, sacbut, and a variety of percussion instruments which are available to ensemble members. Clea Galhano is the director of the ensemble and can be reached at . Early Music Ensemble meets on Fridays 4:45 – 6:15 in M116 (Crawford Hall), and occasionally on Sunday afternoons.

MacJazz is an auditioned 18-piece big band directed by Joan Griffith, performing classical and contemporary big band jazz. Mac Jazz rehearses on Mondays and Wednesdays 4:45 – 6:15 in M116 (Crawford Hall).

Mac Pop and Jazz Combos
The Mac Combos, coached by Pete Hennig, are open to students who want to play jazz or original pop in a small combo setting. Combos rehearse on Mondays 7 – 9 pm in M113 (Hewitt Hall) and various spaces in the Music Department.


The Macalester Orchestra is a select ensemble of 50–60 students conducted by Assistant Professor of Music, Mark Mandarano. The orchestra plays two to three concerts a semester and its repertoirespans the 18th through the 21st century. Recent concerts have included Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake Suite, Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony and Mussorgsky’s Night on Bald Mountain. The orchestra has collaborated with soloists including Manny Laureano ad Erin Keefe, principal trumpet and concert master, respectively, of the Minnesota Orchestra. The orchestra periodically collaborates with the Macalester Choirs and the African Music Ensemble and has gone on tours to Chicago and Milwaukee. Student soloists are given the opportunity to play concerto movements in the annual Concerto Contest held in the spring. The Macalester Orchestra rehearses on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons from 4:45–6 p.m. in Crawford Hall (M116).

Pipe Band
By any standard, the Macalester College Pipe Band is the premier pipe and drum corps in the upper Midwest. The band carries a 60-year tradition of musical excellence and is one of only a handful of college pipe bands in the United States. Bagpipe lessons are also offered, and are free to all Macalester students. Directed by Mike Breidenbach. Pipe Band rehearses on Wednesdays 6 – 10pm in M116 (Crawford Hall).

Wind Ensemble

The Wind Ensemble provides an opportunity for Macalester students to rehearse and perform the concert literature for winds and percussion. Macalester has a long, rich history of performing music for concert band. The Wind Ensemble is open to all Macalester students at all levels of ability. No auditions are required; however, if a player would like to play the "First Part," they can arrange to audition for director.  Students who play the following instruments are welcome to join the band: flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, saxophone, horn, trumpet, trombone, baritone/euphonium, tuba, timpani and percussion. (Macalester College possesses a limited number of instruments that it can make available to interested students.)

There will be one major performance per semester, with various smaller performances as the opportunities arise. Directed by Shelley Hanson, a renowned wind ensemble conductor, composer and clinician as well as a sought-after clarinetist.

Asian Music Ensemble (not offered in 2015-2016)

The Macalester Asian Music Ensemble performs traditional and modern music from East and Central Asia. Core instruments include a variety of plucked lutes and zithers, bowed fiddles, bamboo/reed flutes, hammered dulcimer, and percussion from Chinese music and traditions across the Silk Road. Directed by Chuen-Fung Wong. Asian Music Ensemble rehearses Fridays 4:45 - 6:15 in M116 (Crawford Hall).

Private instruction on over 30 instruments and voice

Lessons are offered to musicians of all levels on over 30 instruments, including both western and non-western instruments.

For more information, visit our website: or contact Music Department Coordinator Rachel Hest at .

back to top

Theatre and Dance

Welcome to Theatre & Dance (THDA) – the place to study, research, design and embody the histories and ambitions of live performance! Taking a THDA class counts for your Fine Arts requirements, and any course in the Department is guaranteed to be a discussion-based small class, where theory and praxis meet and enliven each other! Through most courses in THDA, you will see on- and off-campus theatre and dance productions.As part of our department desires, you will meet a range of local and national artists, learn vocabularies for talking about what you see, and deepen your commitments as aspiring performers, directors/choreographers, designers, researchers, technicians and playwrights. New to Theatre & Dance? You are most welcome here, in courses, onstage and backstage.

The following Fall 2015 courses are open to first-year students and excellent for exploring THDA:

• FIRST-YEAR COURSE: THDA 105, Theater & Performance in the Twin Cities. This course is built around the professional season of productions in the Twin Cities, with an eye toward variety of genres and theatre/dance venues in Minneapolis and St. Paul.

• THDA 115, Cultures of Dance, is a study of dance forms from around the world, involving film, reading, discussion,and attendance at dance concerts. We will MOVE! This course counts towards the Internationalism requirement.

• THDA 121, Beginning Dance Composition. If you’ve always wanted to try choreography, this course gives you the fundamental vocabularies to do it. All are welcome! No dance experience necessary.

• THDA 120, Acting Theory & Performance I – a  performance class for new as well as experienced performers. The course is an overview and an immersion at once, and by the time you arrive on campus the course will be available on a first come first served status. We will be qualified as a Writing for Performance General Education Requirement.

• THDA 125, Technical Theatre. As our society shifts away from a human connection to the tangible, this course seeks to reconnect the student to the tangible object. Our focus will be on the process of “thinking through making.” Through a series of project based learning opportunities, students will develop an understanding of themselves, the process of “critical making,” and current performance production technologies. This course will meet in a seminar format 2 times a week and a studio format 1 time a week. This topics course fulfills the Technical Theatre requirements for the Theatre and Dance Major.

If you are interested in any of the 200-level courses – “Physical Approaches”(Spring 2016), “Voice and Speech”(Fall and Spring semesters),  “Fundamentals of Scene Design”, “Global Theatre Histories in 80 Days” or “African American Theatre” – please email the THDA Chair, Harry Waters Jr.  with a brief statement of your interest in the courses.


“Dreaming the World Forward”  is the theme. Dreams- from sleeping visions, phantasms to future reveries - have the power to fire up the human spirit and draw us forward in to the new. Dreams respond to lived circumstances: they track the world as it once was, the material world we live in now, and the world that might be. We are staging: “green: an elegy to summer” by Carson Kreitzer, a new play written for Macalester students; “As You Like It” directed by Barbra Berlovitz; “Journey of the Monkey King” adapted from the novel by Kanta Kochhar-Lindgren, and “The Glass Menagerie Project” adapted from The Glass Menagerie by Beth Cleary.  There will be two mainstage dance concerts, one in December, with pieces by Faculty and a guest Choreographer, the other student choreographed and produced in late April.


These are difficult times, and artists’ contributions are needed more than ever! Macalester and THDA prepare our students to get jobs in their chosen field, and to enter excellent graduate programs. Please go to the “After Macalester” tab on THDA’s website for more information on the range of work and research our grads are engaged in.


This annual event will be held in the Theatre & Dance Department on the mainstage, during the first week of classes. If the Student Org Fair is at the same time, you can swing by both! Meet faculty, returning students and guest artists, and get information on auditions, backstage work opportunities, the curriculum and courses, and special events. 

back to top

Theatre and Dance Audition Information

Auditions for theatre productions and dance concerts are open to all students. First-year students regularly are cast in shows and in dance concert pieces! Exact dates/times for Fall Auditions will be during the week of September 16-19. Stay tuned!

Contact Person: Harry Waters Jr.
Phone Number: 651-696-6256
E-Mail Address:

For more information visit our website:

back to top

The Macalester Orchestra is a select ensemble of 50–60 studentsconducted by Assistant Professor of Music, Mark Mandarano. Theorchestra plays two to three concerts a semester and its repertoirespans the 18th through the 21st century. Recent concerts have includedTchaikovsky's Swan Lake Suite, Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony andMussorgsky’s Night on Bald Mountain. The orchestra has collaborated with soloists including Manny Laureano ad Erin Keefe, principal trumpet and concert master, respectively, of the Minnesota Orchestra. The orchestra periodically collaborates with the Macalester Choirs and the African Music Ensemble and has gone on tours to Chicago and Milwaukee. Student soloists are given the opportunityto play concerto movements in the annual Concerto Contest held in thespring. The Macalester Orchestra rehearses on Tuesday and Thursdayafternoons from 4:45–6 p.m. in Crawford Hall (M116).