The nationally recognized jazz ensembles at St. Olaf College offer outstanding performance opportunities to students of any major. The college’s jazz program is home to three bands, each with approximately 21 members. Under the direction of Dave Hagedorn, a variety of musical styles are incorporated into every concert throughout the year, including swing, be-bop, fusion, funk, salsa and Afro-Cuban, Brazilian, and New Orleans grooves.
The bands perform in on-campus concerts every semester as well as swing dances in conjunction with the student-led Swing Club. Entrance is limited to traditional big band instruments: trumpet, trombone, saxophone, piano, guitar, drums, and percussion. Auditions are open to all at the beginning of the school year.
St. Olaf Jazz I was voted the “Best College or University Big Band” by DownBeat magazine in 2011, and by adjudicators at the 2005 University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Jazz Festival — the college’s first appearance at this event.