Professor of Music Timothy Mahr ’78 has conducted the St. Olaf Band since 1994. He is the Robert Scholz Endowed Chair in Music, and teaches composition, conducting, and music education. He is also principal conductor of the Twin Cities-based Minnesota Symphonic Winds.
Mahr is nationally known for his work as a guest conductor and clinician. He is also a prolific composer, having created more than 65 works, many of them for band.
Under Mahr’s baton, the St. Olaf Band traveled to Norway in 1996 and 2005, Britain and Ireland in 2000, took a study tour of Mexico during January, 2004, and another study tour to Australia and New Zealand in January, 2018. Additionally, the St. Olaf Band performed at the 1997 American Bandmasters Association Convention in San Diego, gave its New York City debut at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall in 2003 and performed in Minneapolis at the 2004 National Convention of the Music Educators National Conference. Since 1994, the St. Olaf Band has produced nine compact disc recordings, four of which have received international acclaim.
Before joining the faculty at St. Olaf College, Mahr was Director of Bands at the University of Minnesota, Duluth, for ten years and taught instrumental music at Milaca High School in central Minnesota for three years. While in Duluth, he was the founder and conductor of the Twin Ports Wind Ensemble. He is a past-president of the North Central Division of the College Band Directors National Association (1999-2001), has served on the Board of Directors of the National Band Association (1996-98) and was a founding board member of the Minnesota Band Directors Association.
Mahr has also appeared professionally as a guest conductor and clinician in Norway, Canada, Mexico, and Singapore. He has been in residence as a guest composer/conductor on more than 35 college and university campuses and has twice conducted performances with the Duluth-Superior Symphony Orchestra. He has conducted 21 All-State Bands around the U.S.
His interpretations have earned the praise of notable composers such as Gian Carlo Menotti, Warren Benson, Vincent Persichetti, Ned Rorem, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, Stephen Paulus, Libby Larsen, David Maslanka and Dan Welcher.
As a composer, Mahr received the 1991 ABA/Ostwald Award for his piece, The Soaring Hawk. Five other works have been finalists in national composition contests. His works have been programmed at Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall in New York, numerous national and international music conferences and in 20 countries on four continents. His works are recorded on the Sony, Citadel, Crest, Mark, GIA, Cafua and St. Olaf Records labels.
Mahr was the first recipient of a commission from the American Bandmasters Association Commissioning Project, and the United States Interservice Band premiered the resultant work, Endurance, in Washington, DC. He has received over 35 commissions including works for the U.S. Air Force Band, the Music Educators National Conference, Kappa Kappa Psi/Tau Beta Sigma (National Honorary Band Fraternities), the Nebraska and Indiana Bandmasters Associations, and a work celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the American School Band Directors Association. He is a recipient of the National Band Association’s “Citation of Excellence” and was elected in 1993 to membership in the American Bandmasters Association. Mahr was recently inducted into his alma mater’s Hall of Excellence at La Crosse Central High School.