Fall 2019 Music Department Information

Ensemble Auditions: African Music Ensemble | Chorale and Concert Choir | Symphony Orchestra and Chamber Music | Mac Jazz Big Band | Jazz and Popular Music Combos | Asian Music Ensemble | Pipe Band | Early Music Ensemble | Wind Symphony |

Info Sessions: Majoring and Minoring in Music | Piano Students

Additional Information: Practice Rooms | Borrowing Instruments | Instrument Lockers | General Assistance

Audition Sign-Up Sheets

Please check the information listed for each ensemble below to see whether the sign-ups are online or on sheets located on the table outside the Music Department Office (Music 201) during Orientation.

African Music Ensemble

  • Directed by Ghanaian Master Drummer, Sowah Mensah.
  • African Music Ensemble’s 40 members perform on authentic drums, flutes, xylophones, gourds, voices, and more. The group tours locally, nationally, and internationally.
  • Auditions will be held during the second week of classes, schedule to be announced. Prior experience in African music is not required. Audition sign-up sheets for African Music Ensemble will be posted outside the Music Department Office, M201.
  • Meets Tuesdays and Thursdays 6:45–8:15 PM in M116.
  • Contact Sowah Mensah at  for more information.

Chorale and Concert Choir, Macalester Choral Ensembles

  • Directed by Prof. Michael McGaghie.
  • The Chorale is the College’s principal large chorus. The ensemble’s repertoire includes a cappella and accompanied music from various Western and non-Western vocal traditions. Membership is open to all Macalester students.
  • The Concert Choir is the advanced, select vocal ensemble of Macalester College. The choir draws its repertoire from music of the last six centuries and tours annually through the United States or abroad. Membership is open to all Macalester students.
  • All students are encouraged to audition, including (and especially!) those with little choral experience.
  • Audition schedule for Fall 2020: TBD
  • Auditions for both choirs will consist of: vocalization (testing range, vowels, intonation, flexibility), ear exercises (pitch memory, finding notes within a chord), and a short sight-reading excerpt.  No preparation is required!
  • Weekly rehearsals, additional combined choir rehearsals will be scheduled:
    • Chorale: Tuesdays 4:45–6:15 PM and Thursdays 6:30–8:00 PM in Hewitt Hall, M113.
    • Concert Choir: Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays: 4:45–6:15 PM in Hewitt Hall, M113.
  • Contact Prof. Michael McGaghie at for more information.

Macalester Symphony Orchestra and Chamber Music

  • Conducted by Mark Mandarano.
  • The Macalester Symphony Orchestra performs a wide range of orchestral literature and offers performance opportunities for student soloists in its annual Concerto/Aria Concert. The orchestra plays several campus concerts each year, often including professional soloists such as: violinist Erin Keefe, concertmaster of the Minnesota Orchestra; Manny Laureano, principal trumpet of the Minnesota Orchestra; pianist Mark Mazullo, on the faculty of Macalester College. The orchestra receives periodic sectional coaching from area professionals. In recent years, the orchestra has traveled to perform on tour to Madison and Milwaukee (WI), Lake Forest (IL), and Duluth (MN).
  • The Chamber Music program at Macalester (coordinated by Mark Mandarano) offers an opportunity to explore and perform repertoire for small ensembles. All instrumentalists and vocalists are eligible to participate. Entrance is by audition. Students who are accepted are placed in chamber ensembles practice and rehearse and receive coaching from department faculty or professional instructors. There is least one combined performance required for this class for each semester of study. (n.b. for instrumentalists: participation in a major ensemble – i.e. Orchestra, Wind Symphony, etc. – is a requirement for playing in chamber ensembles).  
  • Audition schedule for Fall 2020: TBD
  • Audition Guidelines (for orchestra and chamber ensembles): Any student playing an orchestral instrument is welcome to audition. It is suggested that students prepare:
    • If possible, prepare the first movement—exposition only—of a standard concerto or an equivalent work from the standard repertoire. If you do not have a concerto or equivalent work prepared, that is perfectly fine. Please come and play whatever you feel comfortable performing.
    • A brief contrasting piece or section, if possible.
    • Sight-reading may also be required.
  • Orchestra meets Tuesdays and Thursdays 4:45–6:15 PM in Crawford Hall, M116.
  • Chamber Music rehearsals are TBA, depending on the schedules of participants.
  • Contact Mark Mandarano at for more information.

Mac Jazz Big Band

  • Directed by Joan Griffith.
  • Mac Jazz is an 18-piece big band which performs and records classic and contemporary big band jazz.
  • MacJazz performs every year at the Twin Cities Small College Jazz Festival as well as at local Twin Cities jazz venues. Past guests with MacJazz have included Maria Schneider, Uri Caine and local vocalists Debbie Duncan and Connie Evingson. MacJazz often features new compositions by past and present members.
  • Audition sign-up sheets will be located on the table outside the Music Department Office, Music 201 during Orientation.
  • Audition schedule for Fall 2020: TBD
  • Audition Guidelines: Students should prepare a melody they know, play a 2-octave major scale of their choice, be ready to sight read. If you can improvise, please be ready to demonstrate that skill.
  • Meets Mondays and Wednesdays 4:45–6:15 PM in Crawford Hall, M116.
  • Contact Joan Griffith at  for more information. Please note that Joan Griffith will have limited access to email during the summer months.

Jazz and Popular Music Combos

  • Directed by Peter Hennig
  • Jazz and Popular Music Combos are forums for students to receive coaching in the performance of standards and/or original music.  Students also receive feedback on improvisation development, group interactivity, and stage presence.
  • The combos present two concerts each year.
  • Audition schedule for Fall 2020: TBD
  • Auditions consist of:
    • Vocalists:
      -Sing a one octave major scale (any key) ascending and descending
      -Sing a one octave minor scale (any key) ascending and descending
      -Sing excerpts from 2 of your favorite pieces. They should stylistically contrast from one another.
    • Instrumentalists:
      -Play a two octave major scale (any key) ascending and descending
      -Play a two octave minor scale (any key) ascending and descending
      -Perform excerpts from 2 of your favorite pieces. They should stylistically contrast from one another. You can choose to perform these with accompaniment or solo.
    • Drummers/Percussionists:
      -Play 3 out of these 5 rudiments:
      1. Single stroke roll
      2. Double stroke roll
      3. Single Paradiddle
      4. Flam (right & left handed)
      5. Drag (right & left handed)
      -Demonstrate 3 different grooves (stylistically) on the drum set. These can vary between: Rock, Funk, Jazz, Latin, Hip-Hop, Country, etc.
  • Meets Mondays 7 – 9 PM in M113 and other spaces as needed
  • Contact Peter Hennig at  for more information.

Asian Music Ensemble

  • Directed by Chuen-Fung Wong
  • The 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.
  • Meets Tuesdays 4:45 – 6:15 PM in M228
  • Contact Chuen-Fung Wong at  for more information and to schedule an audition.

Pipe Band

  • Directed by Pipe Major Michael Breidenbach and Drum Sgt. Catherine Bishop.
  • The Pipe Band has been a part of Macalester for over 50 years by performing at most major events including Commencement and special convocations, plus competitions at Scottish Highland games throughout the United States and Canada.
  • All students, faculty, and staff at Macalester may take bagpipe lessons at no charge.
  • No auditions are required for Pipe Band.
  • Meets Wednesdays 6:30–10:00 PM in Crawford Hall, M116.
  • Contact Michael Breidenbach at  for more information.

Early Music Ensemble

  • Directed by Cléa Galhano.
  • Vocalists and instrumentalists of all abilities who are interested in historical performance are invited to join the Macalester Early Music Ensemble. The group focuses on Renaissance and Baroque repertory.
  • No auditions are required.
  • Participant sign-up sheet will be located outside the Music Department Office, M201. You may attend the first class even if you did not sign up beforehand.
  • Attend the first rehearsal on Wednesday, September 4, 2019 in M121. Bring your instruments.
  • Performance: 1 concert each semester.
  • Meets Wednesdays 7:00 – 8:30 PM in M121.
  • Contact Cléa Galhano at  for more information.

Wind Symphony

  • Directed by Shelley Hanson.
  • The Wind Symphony provides an opportunity for Macalester students to rehearse and perform the concert literature for winds and percussion. The Wind Symphony is open to all Macalester students at all levels of ability.
  • No auditions are required. To join, all you need to do is show up at the first rehearsal.
  • 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.
  • There will be one major performance per semester, with various smaller performances as the opportunities arise.
  • Meets Mondays 7:15–8:45 PM in Crawford Hall (M116). Bring your instruments to the first rehearsal on September 9, 2019. If you need to borrow a Macalester instrument, please contact Shelley Hanson at
  • Contact Shelley Hanson at for more information.

Info Session

Considering Majoring or Minoring in Music?

Piano Students

If you’d like to learn more about the piano program at Macalester, professor Mark Mazullo is available by appointment. Email

Additional Information

Practice Rooms

Practice rooms are available for audition preparation (during Orientation, 7am – 10pm), and they are located in the southwest corner of the first and second floors of the Music Department in Janet Wallace Fine Arts Center. There is no charge, and they are first-come, first served.

Borrowing Instruments

If you need to borrow an instrument for auditions, please be in touch with the Director of Instrumental Activities Mark Mandarano at to make arrangements. If possible, please contact him in advance of your arrival on campus.

Instrument Lockers

Lockers are assigned beginning the first day of classes. During Orientation, with rare exception for very large instruments such as upright basses and tubas, first-year students will need to keep their instruments in their dorm rooms.


  • Any Macalester student registered for studio instruction/private lessons, or
  • Any Macalester student enrolled in a Music Department Ensemble.


  1. A one-time, fully-refundable deposit of $30 is required to reserve an instrument locker.
  2. Students must meet eligibility requirements.
  3. Go to Student Accounts in 77 Mac, 102, and let them know you would like to use a Music Department instrument locker.  Hours: 8:00 AM – noon, and 1:00 – 4:00, Monday – Friday. CLOSED ON WEEKENDS AND HOLIDAYS.
  4. Student Accounts will collect the one-time, fully-refundable, $30 deposit (paid in cash or check), and will give you a receipt.
  5. Bring the receipt to the Music Department office (M201), and you will be assigned a locker. Office hours are 9am – 4:30pm Monday – Friday.

General Assistance

For general assistance, please go to the Music Department Office (M201) or contact Music Department Coordinator at .