Music, Theatre and Dance


Music | Theatre and Dance


Welcome to Macalester! The Music Department welcomes and encourages all interested students (not only those who plan to be Music Majors or Music Minors) to participate in our many ensembles. Private instruction is also offered to musicians of all levels, and is offered on over 30 instruments including both western and non-western instruments.

Audition Schedule Fall 2014

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 29.

We look forward to meeting you! Enjoy your summer.

Did you know?

  • That the music department is home to 14 music ensembles?
  • That Macalester students can take sitar, mandolin, and African drum lessons, as well as lessons on 30 other instruments?  Beginners through advanced players are welcome.
  • That Macalester students can take bagpipe lessons at no cost?


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.

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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. 

Asian Music Ensemble
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 F 4:45 - 6:15 in M116 (Crawford Hall).

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. AME rehearses MW 5 – 7pm and TR 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 MWR 4:45 – 6:15 pm in M113 (Hewitt Hall).

Highland Camerata: The Highland Camerata 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 T 4:45 – 6:15 and Thurs 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 F 4:45 – 6:15 in M121, and occasionally on Sunday afternoons, also in M121.

MacJazz is an auditioned 18-piece big band directed by Joan Griffith,performing classical and contemporary big band jazz. Mac Jazz rehearses on MW 4:45 – 6:15 in M116 (Crawford Hall).
Mac Pop and Jazz Combos
The Mac Combos, coached by Joan Griffith, are open to students who want to play jazz or original pop in a small combo setting. Combos rehearse on M 7 – 9 pm in 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 repertoire spans the 18th through the 21st century. Recent concerts have included Dvorak’s New World Symphony, Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony, Mussorgsky’s Night on Bald Mountain and Sibelius’ Second Symphony. In addition to guest artists, 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 W 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 and the Wind Ensemble continues to build on this tradition. 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 the 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. The Wind Ensemble rehearses M 7 - 8:30 pm in M113 (Hewitt Hall).

Private instruction on over 30 instruments and voice
Interested in hearing more about these groups? Contact Department Coordinator Rachel Hest at

For more information visit our website:

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Macalester College Music Department

Full-Time Faculty
• Chuen-Fung Wong, Assistant Professor and Chair (ethnomusicology)
• Randall Bauer, Assistant Professor (theory/composition)
• Victoria Malawey, (theory) - On sabbatical fall 2013
• Mark Mandarano, Assistant Professor and Director of Instrumental Activities (instrumental conducting and theory/composition)
• Michael McGaghie, Assistant Professor and Director of Choral Activities
• Mark Mazullo, Professor (musicology and piano) - On sabbatical fall 2013 and spring 2014

Continuing Part-Time Faculty
• Sowah Mensah, Director of the African Music Ensemble
• Joan Griffith, Director of MacJazz and Jazz Combos
• Mike Breidenbach, Director of Piping
• Laura Nichols, voice instructor
• Clea Galhano, Director of Early Music Ensemble

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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, and thereby meet a range of artists, learn vocabularies for talking about what you see, and deepen your commitments as aspiring performers, directors/choreographers, designers, technicians and playwrights. New to Theatre & Dance? You are most welcome here, in courses, onstage and backstage.

The following Fall 2013 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 110, Introduction to Theatre Studies. This is required for the major (though open to all students) and a superb foundational course in performance and cultural theory, histories and research methods.
• THDA 115, Cultures of Dance, is a dance history course with global dimensions, involving film and video documents, embodied experimentation, and an introduction to performance research in dance.
• THDA 121, Beginning Dance Composition. If you’ve always wanted to try choreography, this course gives you the fundamental vocabularies to make and critique your own dance compositions.
• THDA 120, Acting Theory & Performance I – a “gateway” 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 re-named “Acting I: Serious Play.”
• THDA 125, Technical Theatre. This course is where making the material world of onstage performance is the curriculum. This course satisfies a “Q” requirement (Q1) and teaches you a range of skills and methods through classroom lecture, discussion and laboratory work. Projects and set construction are components of the course, which requires 30 hours of scene shop work over the course of the semester.

If you are interested in any of the 200-level courses – “Physical Approaches,” “Brain to Bone,” “Scene Design” or “African American Theatre” – please e’mail the THDA Chair, Beth Cleary ( with a brief statement of your interest in the course.

“Staging Histories” is the theme, and we are staging: Nikolai Gogol’s great farce from 1826, The Government Inspector (November); Bertolt Brecht’s darkly hilarious The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui (February); Suzan-Lori Parks’s trenchant critique of the U.S. response to poverty, In the Blood (April). There will also be two mainstage dance concerts, one in December, the other in early May.


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, on Friday, September 6 from 4:30-6:00. 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. You can already LIKE the Department’s Facebook Page and learn about events and opportunities that way: “Theatre and Dance Department at Macalester College”

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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 publicized over the summer, with auditions occurring in the second week of the Fall semester. Stay tuned!

Contact Person: Beth Cleary
Phone Number: 651-696-6281
E-Mail Address:

For more information visit our website:

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