Fall 2020 Audition 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

Auditions and audition sign ups will be managed virtually for Fall 2020. Check the information listed for each ensemble below for audition information and schedules.

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 on Zoom starting from September 2, 2020.
  • Audition sign-up for Fall 2020
  • Prior experience in African music is not required.
  • Meets Tuesdays and Thursdays 6:45–8:15 PM
  • Contact Sowah Mensah at  for more information.
  • Follow us on Instagram @africanmusicensemble

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 information and schedule for Fall 2020
  • 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 and Thursdays 4:45–6:15 PM
    • Concert Choir: Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays: 4:45–6:15 PM
  • 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 information for Fall 2020: contact Mark Mandarano at
  • 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
  • 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.
  • Auditions will take place online on Zoom
  • Audition schedule for Fall 2020: 15-minute time slots on Sunday August 30, 1pm – 4pm and Monday August 31, 1pm – 4pm.
  • Auditions are scheduled through Signup Genius. 
  • Audition Guidelines: Students should prepare a melody they know, play 1) a 2-octave major scale of their choice 2) one song of their choosing and 3) improvise on a song of their choice (optional)
  • Meets Mondays and Wednesdays 4:45–6:15 PM
  • 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.
  • Auditions will take place online on Zoom
  • Audition schedule for Fall 2020: Monday August 31, 1pm – 3pm and Tuesday September 1, 1pm – 3pm
  • Audition sign up through Signup Genius.
  • 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
  • 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. Please note: no wind instruments will be used during Fall 2020.
  • Meets Tuesdays 4:45 – 6:15 PM
  • 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.
  • Lesson times to be arranged with the instructor.
  • Contact Michael Breidenbach at  for more information.

Early Music Ensemble

  • Directed by Cléa Galhano.
  • Vocalists and instrumentalists who have played or sung for at least three years and 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.
  • You may attend the first class even if you did not sign up beforehand.
  • Performance: 1 concert each semester.
  • Meets Tuesdays 5:45 – 7:15 PM
  • Contact Cléa Galhano at  for more information.

Wind Symphony

  • For Fall 2020, interested Wind Symphony students will be merged with Orchestra and Chamber Music.  Mark Mandarano, Director of Instrumental Music, will be the instructor of record.
  • All placement decisions will be made by Mark Mandarano.
  • 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.
  • Contact Mark Mandarano at for more information.


Additional Information

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

Practice Rooms

Practice rooms are available on the first and second floors of the Music building.  For Fall 2020 certain rooms will be reservable for the purpose of completing the weekly lesson online.  All practice rooms will be unavailable during the Quiet Period.

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. Note that in Fall 2020 lockers will not be accessible during the Quiet Period.


  • 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 Kate Roarty, Music Department Coordinator, at .