Ensembles and Auditions
Ensemble auditions are held in the fall during Week One, St. Olaf’s week of fall orientation activities for new students. See the following pages in this section for detailed descriptions and audition requirements.
If you are interested in St. Olaf Music, please go to http://www.stolaf.edu/deposited to see if you should complete a Music Interest & Information Questionnaire for the Music Department by July 1. If you have questions, call 507-786-3568. If you have a printed paper copy, please send to: Barb Barth, Music Dept., St. Olaf College, 1520 St. Olaf Avenue, Northfield, MN 55057.
Early Auditions – Early audition times are available on Friday, August 29th, for auditioned ensembles and keyboard screening of music majors. (We encourage you to schedule an early audition. Anyone on campus on Aug. 29 is eligible to participate.) Indicate on the Music Interest & Info Questionnaire by July 1 if you would like an audition. You will be able to drop off some of your belongings on Friday, but you will not be able to stay overnight on campus. You will also have an opportunity to get your student ID card on Friday.
Performance Studies (Private Lessons) Registration
Private lessons are open to all students based on studio availability. Music department consent is required. Registration takes place in the Music Dept. office (HOM 245) during Week One. A schedule of registration dates and times will be found in your Week One handbook. Students may be asked to demonstrate their level of achievement. Instrumentalists (strings, woodwinds, brass) are urged to schedule an ensemble audition to assist us in studio placement.
Information for Music Majors
- Admission requirements: All students wishing to major in music must have auditioned and been admitted prior to matriculation. If you were not admitted to the music major prior to matriculation and you are interested in pursuing the major, you should see the Music Department Chair during Week One to discuss your options. Students who have been admitted to the music major will be pre-registered for Theory and Aural Skills.
- Music Theory Placement: Music majors who seek advanced placement in Music Theory can take the placement test during Week One. See your Week One handbook for more information.
- Use of St. Olaf Instruments: If you need to borrow an instrument for auditions or ensemble use, most standard band and orchestral instruments are available, some in limited quantities. If you indicate on the Music Interest & Information Questionnaire that you need an instrument, it will be available for you in CHM 101 when you arrive on campus. Please e-mail Tim Wells at firstname.lastname@example.org for information on using a St. Olaf instrument.
- Instrument Lockers: Instrument lockers in Christiansen Hall of Music are available at no charge. Priority is given to students who are in a large ensemble and/or taking private lessons on their primary instrument. The lockers are provided as a convenience to the students, and St. Olaf is not responsible for the contents of the lockers. Students are strongly encouraged to insure their instruments. Space is not available in CHM to store harps and drum sets. Please e-mail Tim Wells at email@example.com for information on obtaining an instrument locker.
- St. Olaf Orchestra: A symphony orchestra of approximately 90 instrumentalists, the St. Olaf Orchestra presents several concerts each year and furnishes music for a variety of college programs including Christmas Festival. The St. Olaf Orchestra makes annual domestic tours and periodic international tours. Membership is by audition. Private lessons are required for all members.
- St. Olaf Philharmonia: The St. Olaf Philharmonia is a symphony orchestra of about 80 members that performs a concert and chapel service each semester with occasional performances on and off campus. Membership is by audition. Private lessons are recommended for all members.
- St. Olaf Band: The St. Olaf Band performs regularly on campus in concert and as part of important college functions. The 85-piece ensemble takes annual tours and periodic international tours. Membership is by audition. Private lessons are required for all members.
- The Norseman Band: The Norseman Band is a fully-instrumented symphonic band that performs a concert and chapel service each semester with occasional performances on and off campus. Membership is by audition. Private lessons are recommended for all members.
- Jazz Ensembles: The Jazz program consists of three ensembles and gives the opportunity to play the music of the big bands of the 20th century as well as exploring newer forms of the genre. Membership is by audition.
- Collegium Musicum: The Collegium Musicum is an instrumental ensemble that performs music of the Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque eras on historical instruments. Students learn and perform on early instruments, such as recorders, viols, sackbuts, lutes, and cornets. The Collegium Musicum collaborates with the Early Music Singers to present a concert of early music each semester and occasional other performances as well.
- Handbell Ensembles: Three handbell ensembles, the St. Olaf Handbell Choir, St. Olaf Chapel Ringers and Manitou Handbell Choir play in recitals and worship services on campus throughout the year. The groups, who rehearse weekly, also have occasional off-campus performances. One of the ensembles is student-directed. Membership is by audition.
Choral Ensembles at St. Olaf College
- Manitou Singers: Manitou Singers is a select, 100-voice, first-year women’s chorus that sings at services of the Student Congregation, gives campus concerts including Christmas Festival, and makes occasional out-of-town appearances. Each year they combine with the Viking Chorus for a spring concert. Membership is by audition.
- Viking Chorus: The Viking Chorus is an 80-voice first-year men’s chorus group that performs on and off campus for festivals (such as Defeat of Jesse James Days) and collaborative concerts. This group also participates as a solo choir in the Christmas Festival, serves the Student Congregation with special music and combines with the Manitou Singers for a spring concert. Membership is by audition.
- St. Olaf Choir: The St. Olaf Choir, with 74 mixed voices, is recognized as one of the premier college a cappella choirs in the United States. For over a century, the St. Olaf Choir has maintained its original purpose – the study and preparation of a wide range of representative sacred choral literature for public performance. The annual tour advances the artistic standards of choral music and provides means of spiritual inspiration for its many listeners. Membership is by audition to upper-class students. Private lessons are required for all members.
- St. Olaf Cantorei: The St. Olaf Cantorei, a select ensemble of 85 mixed voices, sings for several Sunday services of the Student Congregation each semester and participates in Christmas Festival. In keeping with the historical tradition associated with its name, the repertoire of the Cantorei often includes music for choir and instruments or organ as well as congregation. Cantorei presents a concert each semester and occasional performances off-campus. Private lessons are recommended for all members.
- St. Olaf Chapel Choir: The Chapel Choir is a select group of 95 mixed voices. It participates in the Christmas Festival, prepares music for Sunday services of the Student Congregation, a major spring concert and fall vespers with the college orchestras, and for special events both on and off campus. Membership is by audition to upper-class students. Private lessons are recommended for all members.
- Early Music Singers: The Early Music Singers, an ensemble of 12 to 16 singers, focuses primarily on music of the Middle Ages, Renaissance, and Baroque eras, but also occasionally performs later music appropriate for chamber vocal ensemble. Besides small-group choral singing, students in the group have the opportunity for some one-to-a-part singing. Performances include a fall and spring concert in collaboration with the Collegium Musicum, chapel services and occasional performances off campus. Membership is by audition to upper-class students. Private lessons are recommended for all members.
Ensemble Audition Requirements
Audition excerpts will be posted in mid to late July. Students will be notified via their St. Olaf email address when the information is posted and accessible.
Strings and Harp
One or two contrasting solo selections (up to 5 minutes). The prepared piece(s) can be a movement of a concerto or sonata, or an etude, and should be chosen to represent the fullest extent of your abilities. Choose as difficult a selection as possible that you can play well. You can also expect to sight-read and play major scales. The orchestral excerpts provided in this section are required for your audition.
Prepare one or two contrasting solo compositions (3-4 minutes total) and the provided orchestral excerpts. You will be asked to play major and minor scales with the appropriate number of octaves for the instrument, a chromatic scale covering the full range of the instrument, and to sight-read. Transposition may also be included for clarinets auditioning for orchestra.
Play one each technical and lyrical excerpt from a prepared piece(s) of your choice. You will be asked for major scales (two octaves), and sight-reading. Transposition may also be included for trumpets and horns auditioning for orchestra. Trombones may be asked to demonstrate proficiency in tenor and alto clefs. The orchestral excerpts provided in this section are required for your audition.
All Wind Instruments
Play one each technical and lyrical excerpts from a prepared piece(s) of your choice. You will be asked to play a chromatic scale (ascending & descending), major (and possibly minor) scales, and to sight-read.
Percussion sections in all large ensembles at St. Olaf rotate parts, and auditionees must show competency in each of the three main areas: snare drum, timpani and mallet percussion. Auditions consist of a prepared solo piece and sight-reading in each area (find repertoire suggestions here). Percussionists must provide their own sticks and mallets.
Saxophone, Trumpet and Trombone
You will be asked to play a be-bop tune at sight. Tunes in the past have included Doxy by Sonny Rollins and Au Privave by Charlie Parker. You will also need to demonstrate your improvisational skills by improvising over blues changes (your choice, usually F or Bb) or a standard tune of your choice. The jazz ensemble director will accompany the audition on piano.
Piano, Guitar and Bass
You will be asked to demonstrate your ability to perform in a number of different styles: swing, ballad, funk, Afro-Cuban, and Brazilian. You will also be asked to sight-read a melody and to demonstrate your soloing skills by improvising over a blues or standard jazz tune. The jazz ensemble director will accompany the audition on piano.
You will be asked to demonstrate your knowledge of different grooves: medium swing, up-tempo swing, ballad (with brushes), funk, Brazilian, and Afro-Cuban. You will be asked to sight-read a drum chart, providing the appropriate time feel as well as set-ups and kicks.
Auditions are held during Week One. Sign up early for an audition time on the main bulletin board in the front lobby of Christiansen Hall of Music. Auditions consist of demonstrating acquired handbell technique and sight-reading. You do not need to prepare anything in advance.
Prepare a folk song or hymn of your choice to be sung unaccompanied. The audition will also include vocalizations to check your range and pitch-memory. You may also be asked to sight-read.
We look forward to meeting you at the Art and Art History Department information session in Dittmann Center, Room 204 during Week One. We will tell you about the department course offerings, give you advice about how to start, and answer questions. See the Week One Schedule for details when you arrive on campus.
Studio Art students may schedule a Portfolio Review to receive feedback from your studio art faculty adviser (if you are assigned one) OR the Art and Art History Department Chair. This is an opportunity to discuss course options and possible placement. Ideally this review is done before you register for classes. Contact your adviser or the Art Department Chair via email by August 20. Your portfolio should include 10-12 examples of your strongest work. You may bring the original work, images of work on a CD or a combination of the two. You may also bring sketchbooks/journals (and encouraged to do so).
Advanced Placement Exams
- Art History AP Exam: An AP score of 4 or 5: Art History Major credit awarded for Art 151. General Education credit for ALS-A.
- Studio AP Exam (Drawing, 2D or 3D): An AP score of 4 or 5 counts as 1 course in Studio Art Major – only 1 credit total given if multiple exams are taken. The course credit given for AP Studio Art does not fulfill the college ALS-A requirement.
Attend the Dance Department information Session in Dittmann Dance Studio 1 during Week One. We will tell you about the department course offerings, give you advice about how to start, and answer any questions you have. See the Week One Schedule for details when you arrive on campus.
Then, during the first two weeks of classes there will be information sessions and auditions for our two dance companies, Companydance (a modern-based company) and Veselica(our international company). The dates and times will be posted on the dance department website. Also, in late September, there will be a dinner for dance majors. This is a chance for you to meet others in the department and to learn more about the dance major.
507-786-3240 • firstname.lastname@example.org
As you plan your move to St. Olaf, consider being part of the productions, courses, and projects in the Theater Department. There are several Theater meetings right at the start of the school year that will provide a good deal of information, allow you to ask any questions that you have, and allow you to meet faculty/ staff and other students that share your interests.