New Student Information


Greetings from the Amherst College Music Department!

Welcome to Amherst College! The Music Department offers an exciting array of performance opportunities for students of all levels and backgrounds. These include four choral groups, an orchestra, a jazz ensemble, a contemporary music ensemble, classical chamber music groups, jazz combos, early music, world music, and opera and musical theatre. We would like to invite you to participate in our performance program and in the many concerts to be given during the year.

Please plan to attend the Music Orientation Meeting at 11:30 a.m. on Sunday, August 31, 2014 in Room 3, Music Center. We look forward to meeting you, discussing our programs, and answering your questions. Pizza will be served after the meeting. Descriptions of our performance groups are below and information about taking individual lessons can be found at the attached link.




New students interested in taking one of the Music Department's offerings in Theory and Musicianship (111, 112, 113, 241, 242, 243) need to take a short diagnostic exam. Copies will be available at the Music Orientation Meeting taking place at 11:30 a.m. on Sunday, August 31, 2014 in Room 3, Music Center. Copoies can also be found in a folder immediately outside the department office on the top floor of the Music Center. They may also be downloaded at:

Completion of the exam requires less than one hour. Completed exams should be returned to another designated folder outside the music office.

Professor Jeffers Engelhardt will be evaluating the exams this year and consulting with students about placement this year. Questions may be directed to Professor Engelhardt (

While results of the advanced placement college boards in music theory can be a helpful guide, the Department feels strongly about evaluating each student personally to insure a comfortable fit when starting our theory curriculum.





The Amherst College Choral Society is made up of four ensembles: The Concert Choir (men and women), the Women's Chorus, the Men's Glee Club, and the Madrigal Singers. Half credit is available for the first three ensembles, directed by Mallorie Chernin, Director of Choral Music and Senior Lecturer. The fourth group, the Madrigal Singers, comes from within the Choral Society and is student directed. No previous experience is necessary - all that is needed is a voice and a willingness to commit to two rehearsals each week in the evenings plus performances. The schedule this year includes the traditional concerts on Family Weekend and Homecoming Weekend in the fall, and each group's individual spring concert at the end of the year. Don't miss an opportunity to have fun and enjoy music making with a great community!

Auditions for the Choral groups will be held Saturday, August 30 through Tuesday, September 2 in room 3 of the music building.

Check the bulletin board next to Room 3 in the Music Building for further information. Any student wishing to sing with the Choral Society at the Opening of the College Convocation on Monday, September 1 is cordially invited to do so. A short rehearsal will be held on Monday morning at 10:00 a.m. in Room 3 of the Music Building. If you have any further questions, please contact Mallorie Chernin, Director of Choral Activities at 413-542-2484 or by e-mail at or contact Assistant Director Jordan Hugh Sam e-mail at




The Amherst College Symphony Orchestra is the centerpiece of the college's classical instrumental music program. Led by Senior Lecturer and Director of Instrumental Music Mark Lane Swanson, approximately 55 Amherst College Students participate (as well as up to ten students from the Five College Consortium). On three concert programs per semester, the Symphony Orchestra performs a diverse selection of ambitious, conservatory-level works from the standard 18th-, 19th-, and 20th-century repertoire. Although the orchestra is largely an extracurricular activity and most members are not music majors, it is possible to earn a half credit for participation with the director's permission. It rehearses on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 7-9:30 p.m. with a 15-minute break. The academic year's repertoire will be posted on the music department bulletin board upon your arrival in late August.

The Amherst College New Music Ensemble ("NME") presents contemporary works by Amherst College faculty and other well-known composers of the 20th and 21st centuries on an ad hoc basis and according to student interest. Performing groups vary in size from soloists to ensembles of all sizes, and the rehearsal schedule is dictated by repertoire and personnel considerations. Those interested in participating or in specific repertoire should consult with Mr. Swanson and/or Professor of Composition Eric Sawyer.

Auditions for Orchestra and the New Music Ensemble for the academic year 2014-15 will take place on Monday, September 1, 2014. Sign-up sheets will be posted on the bulletin board just inside the front entrance to the Music Building. You are highly encouraged to audition even if you are not sure you have time your first semester at the college, or if you feel you are "rusty" from the summer! If you have any questions, please e-mail Mark Lane Swanson at




The Chamber Music program offers Amherst College musicians an opportunity to collaborate on a more intimate scale with fellow musicians coached by faculty and guest professional artists. The program fosters personal growth as a musician and the rewards of collaboration for students interested in a musical career as well as for those with an intense love of chamber music. On occasion, student musicians will collaborate with professionals in the area for a semester project. Performers on the Music at Amherst Chamber Series will offer intensive coaching during their residencies, which in the past have featured such internationally renowned artists as pianists Leon Fleisher and Jeremy Denk, violinist Christian Tetzlaff, the Alexander, Brentano, and Tokyo String Quartets, and the Peabody Piano Trio among others. In 2013-2014, coaching was available to select majors and advanced chamber music participants by Music at Amherst artists - pianist Anne-Marie McDermott, Bass-baritone Eric Owens, the Gryphon Piano Trio and the Ying Quartet. In general, first-year students are encouraged to pursue chamber music as an extracurricular commitment. Students may be admitted to half- or full-course credit in chamber music (Music 309/310: Performance and Analysis) by audition with Professor Jenny Kallick and Mark Swanson. Full credit is available for students involved in larger projects, and half credit for students undertaking smaller projects. Identifying suitable chamber music partners will be crucial in determining the enrollment of any individual player. All groups will participate in a recital at the end of the semester. More information on the chamber music program may be obtained during the music department orientation meeting and the instrumental music auditions (see schedule above), or by e-mailing Professor Jenny Kallick at or Mark Swanson at



The Jazz Performance Program (also known as Jazz@Amherst) offers students the opportunity to perform in large and small ensembles. There are also numerous opportunities to study jazz through courses, lessons, and Five College interchange. To learn more about the performance program, contact Bruce Diehl (, 413-542-8308) and read below. For academic advising related to jazz, contact Professor Jason Robinson (, 413-542-8308).

Under the direction of Bruce Diehl, the Jazz Ensemble performs on- and off-campus concerts and rehearses on Monday and Wednesday evenings. The yearly performance schedule typically includes appearances at collegiate jazz festivals. Guest artists regularly appear with our groups; recent guests have included Jeff Holmes, Ingrid Jensen, John Hollenbeck, Stephan Crump '94, Dave Holland, and Vijay Iyer. The yearly Robin McBride Jazz Commission Series gives the opportunity to work directly with a current jazz composer and witness the creative process through the performance of a new piece crafted specifically for the personnel in the group. The Jazz Ensemble is comprised of the typical instrumentation (including male and female vocalists), and has occasional needs for supplemental instruments including clarinets, flute, French horns, tubas and strings. All musicians are encouraged to participate in our Jazz Combos program. These groups focus on improvisation, ensemble concepts, standard repertoire, and offer the opportunity to develop original compositions and arrangements. Jazz Combos are coached once a week by Bruce Diehl, and rehearse at least one other time each week. They perform many times throughout the semester at various on- and off-campus venues, including performances within the Jazz@Schwemm's performance series scheduled in October and March of each year. Rehearsal times for the jazz combos vary according to group members' availability; coachings are on Mondays and Wednesdays.

Students are encouraged to develop their jazz performance skills within a larger course of study that explores the theoretical, historical, and cultural contexts of jazz, African American music, and popular music. For example, students may elect to take Music 226 (Jazz History to 1945), Music 227 (Jazz History After 1945), the Music 113/246/247 series (Jazz Theory and Improvisation), Music 243 (Jazz Form & Analysis), and Music 439 (Improvised Music: Spectrum, Theory, and Practice), among other jazz-related course offerings. For 2014-2015, Music 113 is offered in the Fall (and is considered a minimum skill level for those students who wish to be in our combo program), and Music 247 is offered in the Spring.

Jazz Jam Sessions take place at regular intervals. We view these as a chance to build a strong jazz community among members of the jazz combos and the jazz ensemble, as well as a chance to meet and play with area professionals.

Auditions for Jazz Emsemble and Combos will take place September 2 - September 5, 2014. Please sign up for a time on the bulletin board outside Bruce's office (Room 216) and pick up/prepare the audition piece. The audition piece will also be available in mid-August on the Jazz@Amherst website. The first meeting for all jazz ensemble participants will be Wednesday, September 10 at 7:00 pm, and for all Jazz Combo participants Wednesday, September 10 at 8:30 pm, all in Room 7. Contacts: Bruce Diehl (, 413-542-8308) and Professor Jason Robinson (, 413-542-8208). Please also visit the jazz@Amherst website at



The Department offers a variety of opportunities in opera and musical theatre through which students will be able to participate in design, direction, costuming, stage managing, and performance. We hope and expect that participation in these productions will inspire students both to create their own original projects and to continue their involvement in future years as participants and listeners. Additionally, classroom courses explore the ways that words become music and drama. Some of these opportunities are linked to course offerings, to original student works, and the tradition of fully staged Broadway-style musicals. By enrolling in Professor Jenny Kallick's course "Creating Musical Drama" (not offered in 2014-15), students become a member of the creative team, learning through this process how music drama works and how a production reaches the stage. Casts are professional singers, a number now singing at major opera houses, who collaborate with students during the semester to create a staged production with orchestra. Highlights from prior years include Bizet's Carmen, and Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro and Cosi fan Tutte.



The Five College Early Music Program welcomes students who wish to sing or play Medieval and Renaissance, Baroque, and Classical music. There are several groups, including the Five College Early Music Collegium, a select SATB choir which sings a cappella and with winds and strings. It will rehearse this fall at the University of Massachusetts on Tuesday evenings. Euridice Ensembles include a baroque chamber orchestra, meeting Thursdays early evening at UMass, and 17th- and 18th-century chamber ensembles, open to modern string and wind players. We hope to have a couple of these ensembles meeting at Amherst College at mutually convenient times. Period bows are provided for string players. Individual instruction is available on Medieval and Renaissance instruments, of which the department has a substantial collection. There are openings for singers as well, all voice ranges accepted. Singers are needed for the Collegium (SATB small choir), Voces Feminae (women's choir) and the 17th-Century Song Seminar (singers interested in solo/duo repertory). We also have a Medieval Ensemble, viol consorts, beginning and advanced recorder ensembles, and lute group lessons. If you would like to sing, or you already play an early instrument or wish to learn, or wish to transfer some of your skills from modern strings, winds, brass or keyboard to early instruments, please contact Mr. Robert Eisenstein in the Early Music Program Office (413-538-2079 or 413-538-2306), or by e-mail at The Early Music Website is https// Painless auditions will be held Tuesday, September 2 from 6:30 - 7:30 p.m. in Room 7 of the Music Center at Amherst College. Just show up during the audition/information time; no need to schedule in advance. It will be first come, first serve, and the audition will only take five minutes of your time.



The world music performance program includes the study of vocal and instrumental music in any area for which there is an interest and for which a teacher can be found. Amherst students are also encouraged to participate in the Five Colleges World Music Ensembles. Each semester, Professor Jeffers Engelhardt sponsors performance opportunities for those with experience or interest in traditional and popular music and dance from around the world.



The Music at Amherst Chamber and Parallels Series bring top-of-the-line classical, jazz, new music, and world music artists to Amherst College's Buckley Recital Hall for concert events and master classes throughout the academic year. You are welcome at all of these events!

The Concert Office is thrilled to announce that our classical Chamber Music Series this year will feature the string orchestra A Far Cry with violin soloist Augustin Hadelich, as well as the Brentano String Quartet, medieval ensemble Sequentia, pianist Stephen Kovacevich, cello and piano duo David Finckel and Wu Han, and the Parker Quartet. The sixth season of our Parallels Series brings you new-music great Pauline Oliveros presented by the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), jazz great Vijay Iyer and his trio, and legendary Irish pianist Micheal O' Suilleabhain.

Students can attend any of these events by getting free student-rush tickets on the night of the show or through Or you can earn a little extra spending money by ushering for Series and other departmental events! For more information on tickets, ushering, or general concert information, please contact Alisa Pearson, Manager of Concert Programming, Production and Publicity, at, or stop by the Concert Office in Room 101 of the Arms Music Center when you are on campus. We look forward to seeing you!

Again, welcome to Amherst. We look forward to meeting you at 11:30 a.m. on Sunday, August 31.

Sincerely yours,

Jenny Kallick, Chair and the members of the Music Department