Admissions & Aid
Do you play an instrument, or sing or did you used to play in high school? Want to get back into it?
The Brooklyn College Brass Ensemble, directed by Brian Olson, provides experience for both small and large chamber groups in the study and performance of traditional and contemporary music for brass instruments. Emphasis is on developing basic performance musicianship through systematic work on intonation, phrasing, balance and interpretation; and the study of brass instrument history, technique, repertoire and pedagogy. The Brass Ensemble has toured England, Germany, and Switzerland. Special residencies and joint performances with students and faculty of the Royal Academy of Music (London) and Karlsruhe Musikhochschule (Germany) provided unique opportunities for cultural and musical exchange. The Ensemble was the only student group invited to perform at the International Brass Symposium in Basel, Switzerland, and was featured at the New York Brass Conference as well as the International Trumpet Guild Conference. This active group has also performed at the Metropolitan Opera House, the Albany Center for the Performing Arts, Summer Concert Series at Bryant Park and Battery Park, Columbia University, C.W. Post College, Kingsborough Community College and many high schools throughout the New York City metropolitan area. The ensemble was featured on the Telly Award–winning TV documentary, Fanfare. Guests of the ensemble have included Benny Sluchin, Crispian Steele-Perkins, Walmir Vieira, Ole Edvard Andersen, and many others of international repute.
Under the direction of Distinguished Professor Ursula Oppens and Professor Marianne Gythfeldt, conTEMPO is the Conservatory’s contemporary music ensemble. Through performing a diverse repertory of solo, chamber, and orchestral works, students become familiar with the language and performance practices of a wide range of contemporary music. In addition to coaching in standard 20th- and 21th-century repertory, Professors Oppens and Gythfeldt focus on new music, introducing the ensemble to the richly diverse idioms of living composers. conTEMPO has premiered many works, including compositions by Conservatory students.
Under the direction of Frank Cassara, the Brooklyn College Percussion Ensemble has gained an international reputation through its many performances around the world. The ensemble has performed in Korea, Romania, Spain, and Turkey, and participates in an annual percussion festival in Ireland. The ensemble plays the most challenging and ambitious works available for percussion and has premiered many works, including several commissions by such composers as Marta Ptasynzka, David Friedman, Jose Halac, and Bernard Hoffer. Guest soloists have included the American Saxophone Quartet, David Freidman, Ray Marchica, Glen Velez, and Salim Washington.
Under the direction of conductor George Rothman, the Conservatory Orchestra presents several concerts each semester—richly varied programs of repertory from the Baroque to New Music, including concertos featuring the winner of the conservatory’s annual concerto competition. The ensemble also collaborates with the choruses in performance of large-scale choral works and in fully staged productions by the Brooklyn College Opera Theatre. The orchestra participates in the conservatory’s Composer-in-Residence program, through which selected student composers create new works presented in public readings and workshop performances.
Each year, the Brooklyn College Opera Theatre, under the direction of Isabel Milenski, presents at least one fully-staged opera. Past productions includes Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Le nozze di Figaro, Der Zauberflöte, and The Abduction from the Seraglio; Puccini’s La bohème and Madama Butterfly; Verdi’s La Traviata; Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress; Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos; Carlisle Floyd’s Susanna; the American fully-staged premiere of Milhaud’s Christophe Colomb; and a Telly Award–winning taped-for-TV production of Copland’s The Tender Land. Their most recent seasons have presented the New York premiere of Ana Sokolović’s Svadba–a 60-minute a cappella opera for six female voices–in a stunning avant-garde production at ShapeShifter Lab, the cutting-edge Gowanus performance space, and a resourceful and vibrantly semi-staged version of Mozart’s Lucio Silla, an opera seria gem that forecasts the brilliance of the composer’s mature works. These presentations are augmented throughout the year by performances of chamber operas, providing students with extensive experience of repertory of diverse periods and styles.
The Brooklyn College Symphonic Choir is a 65-voice mixed choral ensemble that includes students and staff from throughout the Brooklyn College community. Conducted by Malcolm J. Merriweather, the choir performs a variety of literature representing every musical period and genre in its two major campus concerts per year. Past performances have included Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana and Wolfgang A. Mozart’s Requiem in collaborations with the Conservatory Orchestra and other Brooklyn area schools.
Conservatory Singers, under the direction of Malcolm J. Merriweather, is a chamber choir composed of anywhere from 12 to 24 singers. Repertoire includes sacred and secular works from all centuries, appropriate for smaller vocal ensembles with an emphasis on works of contemporary composers. Enrollment is by audition with the conductor.
The Brooklyn College Big Band is directed by saxophonist Kat Rodriguez, while the Conservatory Jazz Ensemble, a smaller group, is run by drummer Ronnie Burrage. Much of the ensemble repertoire is shaped by the master’s degree program in Global and Contmporary Jazz Studies; students in both ensembles, thus, study the standard jazz repertory of such seminal figures as Mingus, Coltrane, Ellington, and Monk while also presenting their own original compositions and works by global jazz pioneers, among them Latin greats and international artists from more far-flung cultures less often associated with the art form. The Big Band plays dynamic programs, often including an eclectic mix of styles and compositions and featuring illustrious guest artists of diverse backgrounds such as multi-reed player Anat Cohen, alto saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa, and trumpet virtuoso Etienne Charles. Most recently, the Big Band gave the Brooklyn premiere of Arturo O’Farrill’s remarkable The Cornel West Concerto featuring the oration of the noted cultural critic and social activist, himself. The Jazz Ensemble emphasizes the skills necessary to the contemporary jazz musician, including technique, theory, oral instruction, philosophy of improvisation, and memorization.
The Brooklyn College Wind Ensemble, under the direction of Thomas Oberle, performs works from a wide assortment of styles and genres. Repertoire consists of compositions written for contemporary concert band as well as orchestral transcriptions, Broadway compilations, and other popular music adapted for concert band. The ensemble normally performs several concerts a year and is open to all CUNY students. Besides being the studio ensemble for wind players, this ensemble provides solid training for band instrumentalists and music educators.
The Brooklyn College Guitar Ensemble, directed by Lars Frandsen, performs a diverse repertory of contemporary works and transcriptions and/or arrangements from works spanning all periods of music. In addition to performing on standard range instruments, the ensemble’s repertory is expanded through the ownership of a quartet of specially commissioned guitars with extended note compass, enabling the ensemble to perform repertoire that would otherwise be all but impossible. Several concerts have included the participation of select students from nearby James Madison High School, as well as other students, enabling the ensemble to perform repertory that calls for a significantly expanded ensemble. Each semester, the ensemble works with a composer-in-residence selected from the college’s composition students. The Guitar Ensemble has premiered more than 15 new works since forming in 1997. The ensemble performs at many outside venues, including, most recently, at Yale University and the American Institute of Guitar.