St. Olaf College | News

A campus composer on the rise

St. Olaf junior Garrett Bond playing the piano.

St. Olaf junior Garrett Bond has written 13 choral works that have been performed by multiple ensembles across three countries.

Music theory and composition major Garrett Bond ’19 might only be a few years into his studies at St. Olaf College, but many on campus have already heard — or performed — his work.

Bond was commissioned by Tosdal Professor of Music and St. Olaf Choir Conductor Anton Armstrong ’78 to write a piece for the Collegiate Chorale.

“After reviewing the score that Garrett presented me, I was impressed with the beauty of the vocal lines and how they so illuminated the text he created,” Armstrong says.

“This message of hope, love, and peace in this very agitated time of discord — not only on our own campus last spring, but also in the wider world — was simply what the members of the Collegiate Chorale needed to be exploring in their lives and sharing with our wider campus community. The members of the Collegiate Chorale loved the work and were honored that Garrett had dedicated it to us. I encourage others to listen to the piece. It is a well-crafted composition worthy of publication and many future performances.”

Bond says the inspiration for the piece, titled Peace, Hope & Love, came directly from his experience on campus.

Composer Garrett Bond ’19.

“The quality of music-making at St. Olaf is astounding,” says composer Garrett Bond ’19. “The resulting sound is beyond that of anything that I could find at other colleges or universities.”

“I sat down one evening after hearing an argument in my dorm between a few political advocates and I created the entire text right then and there,” says Bond. “The next day I was fiddling around at a piano with some ideas for the piece and remembered that text; within a few hours, I had the full piece jotted down and only made a few adjustments from that to what the Chorale eventually performed.”

The Collegiate Chorale is composed of 100 St. Olaf students, faculty, staff, and other members of the campus community.

Bond has been a part of choral ensembles since the third grade. In high school he wrote his first piece, which was inspired by the traditional American folk tune Shenandoah. His version of the piece was performed first by his high school and then by Armstrong at the Oregon Bach Festival.

“It was after this that I decided to more seriously pursue choral writing,” says Bond.

Bond now has 13 choral works — two pieces for wind ensemble, two orchestral pieces, a symphonic suite, and multiple chamber pieces — all of which have been performed by multiple ensembles ranging from high school, children’s, and community ensembles to professional ensembles spanning across three countries.

After Bond’s third year at the Oregon Bach Festival, Armstrong recommended St. Olaf for further education in composition.

“The quality of music-making at St. Olaf is astounding — the resulting sound is beyond that of anything that I could find at other colleges or universities — and it really is a place that nurtures talent and pushes student musicians to achieve a higher level of musical excellence while still making rehearsals and performances enjoyable and a worthwhile experience,” says Bond.

Listen to members of the Collegiate Chorale perform Bond’s work below.