One of seven student choirs at St. Olaf College, the Early Music Singers has a membership of 14-20 singers and focuses primarily on music of the Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque eras. Occasional performances range outside that repertory and have included American parlor songs and contemporary chamber music. The ensemble performs most of its music as a choral group, but students also have the opportunity to perform madrigals and other music appropriate for smaller ensembles, one to a part, or as soloists with early instruments.
The Early Music Singers performs a concert each semester in collaboration with the St. Olaf Collegium Musicum, St. Olaf’s early instrument ensemble. Concerts are performed in Boe Memorial Chapel on the St. Olaf campus. Typically there is a thematic focus for the repertory each semester and it is reflected in the concert program. Sometimes the focus is on the music of a particular country or city (for example, Music from Elizabethan England, or French Music from the Early Sixteenth Century), sometimes on the music of a particular composer (Music of Josquin des Prez, Lassus and Music at the Bavarian Court, Music from the Time of Schütz), sometimes on a more general theme (e.g., A Musical Celebration of Spring). Other performances by the Early Music Singers include singing for Sunday morning services in Boe Chapel on campus, chapel presentations, and occasional performances off campus.
Membership in the Early Music Singers is open by audition to all St. Olaf students, both music majors and non-music majors, but normally includes only sophomores, juniors, and seniors. Membership in the Early Music Singers does not preclude participation in other choirs; students in the ensemble usually sing in the St. Olaf Choir, Chapel Choir, or Cantorei as well. Most also study voice privately with St. Olaf voice faculty. Auditions are held each year in early May for the following year’s group. The ensemble rehearses Tuesdays from 11:45-1:10 and Thursdays 12:45-2:05.