Photo of students singing in a studio classroom.


Challenge your mind, fuel your passion.

Music is one of the seven original liberal arts—and it’s just as indispensable for modern students as it was for the ancient Greeks.

Whether you dream of life as a composer, or you simply want to keep playing your instrument, Macalester’s Music Department has something to offer you. Music serves a fundamental human need, allowing us to explore, express, and communicate, both as individuals and as entire cultures. As a discipline, music offers an irreplaceable perspective and critical lens, both of which help fulfill the broader mission of Macalester.

Our curriculum includes courses in the craft of music, including performance, theory, and composition, as well as opportunities to learn conducting and recording. We also invite you to examine music through a critical studies lens. For example, you might:

  • Perform works from the Western canon and other repertories, while critically examining the process of canonization itself
  • Conduct fieldwork on world musical traditions
  • Explore the connections between music and gender, ethnicity, race, nationalism, and more
  • Study how music and literature intersect and influence one another

Why Music at Macalester?

Cross-cultural, cross-disciplinary

Many of our professors team up with other departments on campus—such as English or the Asian Languages and Cultures Department—to lend additional insight and expertise to music courses.

Performance space

Our Mairs Concert Hall houses two Steinway D concert grand pianos, an Allen Q370 organ, as well as state-of-the-art recording and broadcast equipment. The exceptional acoustics of the hall can be custom-tuned to the perfect setting for every performance.

Hi-fi recording

Many practice and performance spaces in our gorgeous facility are wired and set up for audio recording, at a studio-level quality.

Life after Macalester

Music in the cities


Number of nights per week that students have opportunities to see local, national, or international concerts, thanks to the Twin Cities renowned music scene.


Number of times the community gathers each week to celebrate students’ achievements at recitals.


Number of department-sponsored ensembles, for which any student may audition.

Department happenings
Congratulations to the recipients of the Music Department awards!

Lila Bell Acheson Wallace Endowed Prize, awarded to an outstanding student majoring in music.

  • Zoe Grigsby

Walter A. Lienke Endowed Prize, recognizing outstanding students majoring in music.

  • Alex Saros

Tobin Smith Endowed Prize, awarded to an outstanding student receiving instruction in bagpipes.

  • Rhys O’Higgins

Zenas Taylor Endowed Prize in Music, awarded to a student majoring or minoring in voice.

  • Catherine Terres

Friends of Music Award, recognizing outstanding students for performance, academic work, and service.

  • Ryan Chu

  • Grace Killackey

  • Chloé Nance

  • Tadhg Ferris Wayne