Music

New Student Information

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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 5:00 p.m. on Sunday, September 1, 2013 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.

 

MUSICAL PERFORMANCE OPPORTUNITIES

CHORAL MUSIC

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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. 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 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 31 through Tuesday, September 3.

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 2 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 mchernin@amherst.edu or contact Assistant Director Joseph Taff by e-mail at jtaff13@amherst.edu.

 

INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC, NEW MUSIC

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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 2013-14 will take place on Monday, September 2, 2013. 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 mlswanson@amherst.edu.


CHAMBER MUSIC

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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 will be available to select majors and advanced chamber music participoants 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 jlkallick@amherst.edu or Mark Swanson at mlswanson@amherst.edu.

 

JAZZ ENSEMBLE, COMBOS, and JAZZ THEORY/IMPROVISATION

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The Jazz Program at Amherst features large and small group performance opportunities as well as the chance to study improvisation, jazz theory, jazz history, and various specialized topics. Bruce Diehl and Professor Jason Robinson offer a variety of jazz and popular music related courses. Students who are interested in becoming a part of the vibrant jazz community at Amherst should contact Bruce Diehl and Professor Robinson. Applied lessons based on jazz performance are available for many instruments and voice.

The Jazz Ensemble, under the direction of Bruce Diehl, 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 performing jazz groups and the most recent artists 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. A variety of jazz-related courses are strongly recommended. All students may elect to take the Music 113/246/247 series, Jazz Theory and Improvisation, which provides an in-depth focus on concepts related to jazz performance. This year 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 246 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. A performance series specifically for our smaller groups, Jazz@Schwemm's, gives our musicians a chance to perform alongside professionals while in the "club" or "coffee shop" atmosphere. Each year Jazz@Amherst sponsors a lecture aimed at the more academic approach to the history and culture of jazz. Last year we enjoyed a lecture by Kevin Felezs of Columbia University, and past lecturers have included Ingrid Monson, Robert O'Meally, Lewis Porter, Mark Gridley, and Andy Jaffe. We hope you will consider bringing your energy and style (and ability at any level) to one or more of these opportunities.

Auditions for Jazz Emsemble and Combos will take place September 4 - September 6, 2013. 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 Monday, September 9 at 7:00 pm, and for all Jazz Combo participants Wednesday, September 11 at 8:30 pm, all in Room 7. You can contact Bruce Diehl at 413-542-8308 or e-mail him at bpdiehl@amherst.edu. You can contact Professor Jason Robinson by calling 542-8208 or e-mail him at jrobinson@amherst.edu. Please also visit the jazz@Amherst website at www.amherst.edu/~jazz.


OPERA AND MUSICAL THEATRE

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. Some of these opportunities are linked to course offerings, and others are part of the tradition of fully staged Broadway-style musicals prepared during January interterm and during the first week of spring semester. By enrolling in Professor Jenny Kallick's course "Creating Musical Drama" (not offered in 2013-14), 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 Tutti. In 2013-14, FIve College Opera will present Kurt Weill's Street Scene. Students interested in participating should contact Company Manager Derek Johnson at Johnson.a.derek@gmail.com.


EARLY MUSIC

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 Unuiversity 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 consrts, 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 reisenst@mtholyoke.edu. The Early Music Website is https//www.fivecolleges.edu/earlymusic. Painless auditions will be held Tuesday, September 3 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.


WORLD MUSIC

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.

 

CONCERT OFFICE

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. The Concert Office is thrilled to announce that our classical Chamber Music Series this year will feature the St. Lawrence and Ying Quartets, pianist Anne-Marie McDermott, Gryphon Trio, and bass-baritone Eric Owens. The fifth season of our Parallels Series will celebrate vocal music with concerts by contemporary ensemble Roomful of Teeth, Persian vocalist Sonia M'Barek, and jazz artist Gretchen Parlato. Students can go to any of these events by getting free student-rush tickets on the night of the show or through amherst.universitytickets.com. Or, see the show and earn a little extra spending money by ushering for Series and other departmental events! For more information on tickets, ushering, or general concert information, contact Manager of Concert Programming, Production and Publicity or stop by the Concert Office in Room 101 of the Arms Music Center when you are on campus.

 

Again, welcome to Amherst. We look forward to meeting you at 5:00 p.m. on Sunday, September 1.

Sincerely yours,

Klara Moricz, Chair and the members of the Music Department

 

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