Music Department

Ensembles

Ensembles

Chamber Singers

The select Chamber Singers, under the direction of Dr. Patrick O’Shea, consists of 24 to 28 advanced singers. The Chamber Singers focus on challenging repertoire from the Renaissance to the present, especially a cappella works. The ensemble performs at least 6 times per year in formal concert settings, liturgical settings, and various other venues.

Chamber Orchestra picture

Press Quotes:

“…the best choir we’ve ever worked with, times ten…”
– Turtle Island String Quartet

“…les vingt-huit chanteurs de la Saint Mary’s Chamber Singers ont laissé entrevoir toutes leurs capacities, les voix mélodieuses et limpides, tout en force et finesse…” (the twenty-eight singers of the Saint Mary’s Chamber Singers displayed all of their capacities, voices melodious and limpid, in all their force and finesse)
– Jean-Claude Savard, La Republique du Centre, Orléans, France

Chamber Orchestra

The Saint Mary’s University Chamber Orchestra provides the best opportunities for all Saint Mary’s students and Winona community members to perform a wide range of classical orchestral repertoire within and outside the Winona community, in addition to collaborations with many international and local artist-teachers each year.

The Chamber Orchestra presents a series of public concerts in the beautiful Figliulo Recital and in the greater Minnesota community every year, including Parkwood Shore in the Twin Cities, Sugar Loaf Senior Living, the Chapel of Saint Mary of the Angels, Central Lutheran Church and St. Anne’s Home here in Winona.

The fall semester auditions take place during the first week of classes, with auditions-by-appointment available during the academic year. Please contact Stephen Pelkey at spelkey@smumn.edu for more information.

Concert Band

After graduation from high school, where can people go to continue to enjoy making music together in a concert band? The Saint Mary’s Concert Band strives to answer that question. If you enjoyed playing in your high school band there is a place for you in the Saint Mary’s University band program. Students from all academic areas are invited to participate. We enjoy making music in a cooperative, positive atmosphere.

Concert Band picture

The Concert Band rehearses twice weekly on Monday and Wednesday evenings, as not to conflict with science labs, afternoon sports practices and most other campus events. We also welcome a number of talented high school and community musicians into our midst as part of our ongoing college/community partnership. Auditions are held at the start of each academic year for chair placement. It is expected that band members have participated in high school ensembles prior to joining the band.

The band performs an average twice each semester.

Concert Choir

The 64-voice Concert Choir, directed by Dr. Patrick O’Shea, is a large mixed chorus open to members of the Saint Mary’s community by audition. The Concert Choir typically sings from 4 to 6 performances yearly, both on and off campus. The Concert Choir has toured extensively in the upper Midwest region and has also toured internationally. The Concert Choir’s repertoire includes music of all periods and styles, with an emphasis on accompanied music appropriate to larger ensembles.

Concert Choir picture

Jazz Combos

Jazz at Saint Mary’s thrives not only through its “big band” Jazz Ensemble, but also in smaller combo settings.

Jazz Workshop Combos provide a friendly environment where students can learn more about improvisation as well as playing in a small group setting. Workshop Combos are open to any student interested in advancing their jazz abilities.

Jazz Combo I is an intermediate level group with an emphasis on refining skills needed to improvise jazz. The group is open by audition and students participating in this group have generally taken the Workshop Combo or have had the equivalent experience.

The Jazz Combo tours with faculty members on recruiting trips to area high schools and performs several concerts each semester. Tours have taken the Jazz Combos to Germany, London, France, Mexico, Washington D.C., New York City, Chicago, Salt Lake City, Atlanta, and Kansas City as well as attending several conventions held by the International Association of Jazz Educators.

Jazz combos picture

Jazz Ensemble

Jazz has played an integral role at Saint Mary’s since the mid-1950s when the locally famous big band known as the Marynotes was formed by students. Today, Jazz Ensemble, Jazz Workshop Combos and Jazz Combo I are a regular part of the curriculum.

Jazz concerts are presented each semester, both on and off campus, featuring noted professional jazz artists working directly with the students. Noted jazz greats who have worked with students include: The Charles Mingus Big Band, Dave Liebman, Ernie Watts, Bill Watrous, Garry Dial, Dick Oatts, Steve Slagle, Art Lande, Paul McCandless, Anat Cohen, Eddie Allen, Marc Bernstein, and Dean Sorenson.

Jazz ensemble picture

The Jazz Ensemble performs charts from various periods of jazz history with an emphasis on arrangements of works that have become standards in the jazz repertoire. Works by contemporary jazz composers are also included in our performances and students are encouraged to develop improvisational skills in this group as well as in combos. The group rehearses twice per week and one credit may be earned for participation. In addition to music majors, the Jazz Ensemble attracts a wide range of students from general studies representing many diverse academic programs at Saint Mary’s University.

Percussion Ensemble

Founded in 1992, the Batucada Nossa Senhora, Saint Mary’s percussion ensemble, is an ethnic drumming group which has become quite popular in the Winona area. Translated literally from Portuguese as the “Percussion Ensemble of Our Lady,” the Batucada Nossa Senhora performs a mix of African and Afro-derived music, concentrating mainly on the Afro-Brazilian and Afro-Cuban traditions. Our repertoire features folkloric and sacred music from these traditions as well as popular music set to traditional styles. The group rehearses once a week during the school year and performs several times a semester. Group members include students, many of whom are music majors, as well as community members.

Instruments played in the batucada include authentic surdo, tamborim, agogó, reco-reco, ganzá, and pandeiro from the Samba Drum ensemble drums pictureBaterias of Brazil as well as hand-drums such as conga and bongó from the Cuban tradition. From Africa we also use gongoque and beaded gourds of many types (most of which are made by members of the group) as well as instruments such as the berimbau and talking drum.

Styles we have performed include numerous sambas from the urban areas of Brazil, the marakatu, batuque, and baião from Bahia in northeastern Brazil, guiro, conga, mambo, cha-cha-cha, bolero, and rumba from Cuba, as well as bembé and other processional music from Africa. We also perform sacred pieces from the Afro-Brazilian umbanda and the Afro-Cuban santería both of which are Yoruba-derived religions.

This is a multi-cultural educational experience for all. The repertoire is mastered largely through rote and repetition, and is passed on verbally as the tradition demands. We work on the material much the way people in the regions we draw from would, which while being very demanding, can also be a very enriching experience.

Wind Ensemble
The Wind Ensemble is a smaller, select group that performs music written specifically for small-to-medium size instrumental ensembles. Open to students and community members by audition, this ensemble requires advanced musical performance skills, the ability to make music independently, and the dedication to practice outside of the scheduled rehearsal time. The Wind Ensemble practices once weekly and has recently performed repertoire by Vincent Persichetti, Gordon Jacob, Franz Schubert, Philip Rothman, and Charles Gounod. The instrumentation varies depending on the needs of the repertoire being performed. Members are also required to perform in the Concert Band.