Play at Brock!

The Department of Music at Brock, part of the Marilyn I Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, offers a full and rich calendar of musical events through the academic year. Taking place in the Walker School and the adjacent FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre in downtown St Catharines, our musical activities are a cornerstone of the University’s cultural profile in the Niagara region. In addition, we offer several academic degrees in Music, and music making is an integral part of our courses.

If you are majoring in a subject other than Music, but music is an important part of your life that you wish to continue at University, then there are a number of options for you:

Ensembles – experience the buzz of group music making at its very best!

As a Brock student it is possible to sing or play in an ensemble, either for recreation or for credit. Members of the community are also encouraged to audition for an ensemble.

Ensembles run from September to April, with an informal audition in late August or early September. Each ensemble requires a commitment of 3 hours a week rehearsal for both terms, with participation in a concert at the end of each term. Rehearsals are normally held in the Recital Hall in the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre. Please read below for further details.

The following ensembles are available to all Brock students by audition:

Instrumental Ensembles

• Wind Ensemble (MUSI 1-2-3-4P84): rehearsals Tuesdays 7:00-10:00pm
• String Orchestra (MUSI 1-2-3-4P86): rehearsals Wednesdays 7:00-10:00pm
• Jazz Ensemble (MUSI 1-2-3-4P78): rehearsals Mondays 7:00-10:00pm

For details on any of the instrumental ensembles contact music@brocku.ca

This year both Wind Ensemble and Jazz Ensemble will be online.
It is important to realize that the virtual environment will never replace in-person rehearsals, performances, and interactions.

Despite these circumstances, both groups will experience some sense of normalcy through a creative and stimulating learning environment that will:

  • enhance our skills
  • develop a broad musical base of knowledge
  • specifically address the unique nature of virtual performance aspect and
  • help build a strong sense of community and camaraderie.

For any questions about these ensembles please contact Zoltan Kalman, Conductor and Music Director, zkalman@brocku.ca

  1. This is a unique opportunity to concentrate on various aspects of instrumental playing that we don’t often have time for, such as reinforcing individual skills, developing technique, building solid rhythm concepts, improving sight-reading, intonation, balance etc.
  2. Strengthening our listening skills through video examples of top performers and analyzing standard Wind Ensemble and Jazz Ensemble repertoire.
  3. Creating individual portfolios. This may include working with younger students, creating a soundtrack on your instrument, interviewing conductors, professional players and faculty members, or creating audition repertoire.
  4. Interacting and working with professional guest musicians and clinicians, participating in virtual sectional rehearsals and masterclasses as well as mock auditions will be integral components of both ensembles.
  5. Individual music preparation, recordings, and submitting parts of specific repertoire that will culminate in virtual performances at the end of each term as an outcome of all the hard work.

In the past few years we have built an incredibly strong connection with our loyal audience. It is our mandate to show them that we are here to stay and are making a conscientious effort to provide them with high level performances.

This year is going to be a huge challenge for us. However, we can take solace in knowing that we are all in this together. We will ride out the storm with the unwavering support of one other and with a commitment to ensure that once the restrictions ease, not missing a beat, we’ll be back in “business”!

Zoltan Kalman, Conductor and Music Director

Music 1-2-3 P78 Jazz Ensemble          Mondays    7:00-10:00

Music 1-2-3-4 P84 Wind Ensemble     Tuesdays    7:00-10:00

Brock music majors can register for the ensembles now, but please know that your place is not guaranteed until you pass an audition.

Non-music majors will be granted permission to register for the courses following a successful audition.

Brock music majors can register for the ensembles now, but please know that your place is not guaranteed until you pass an audition.

Non-music majors will be granted permission to register for the courses following a successful audition.

Auditions will be conducted in a virtual setting during the second half of August. Please email Zoltan Kalman zkalman@brocku.ca at the beginning of August to set up an audition date/time.

Audition requirements

Please prepare two short contrasting pieces/movements, (five minutes each in length, preferably slow and fast works) that will demonstrate the lyrical aspect of your playing as well as your technical skills.

Also, I will ask you to play a few scales. To prepare, please practice all major and harmonic minor scales, both slurred and tongued in 16th. notes at the speed of quarter=78.

The Brock University String Orchestra is a training ground for string students at Brock and a community orchestra for the general music community in Niagara.

The Orchestra and Covid-19
This year the orchestra will be online until allowed to convene. The orchestra this year will be more about the process of learning an ensemble work and less about the final performances.

This Year’s Course
The orchestra will not be able to function as in normal years. We will be learning through online forums and processes and need to look at this as a different opportunity to learn and harness new skills. We may look on ourselves as pioneers in something exciting and new.

We will focus on smaller ensemble pieces and sectionals as well as discuss larger works and engage with each other in order to progress in our understanding of ensemble and individual instrumental practice. We need to learn how to connect as a community online.

Members will be divided into three smaller ensembles and assigned a larger work with the hope of being able to perform it live. I am also looking into the possibility of setting up a larger work with the choirs and wind and brass ensembles.

Online learning resources will be provided for each of the three pieces. Sectionals may be led by myself and also by other members of the orchestra or guests. We know that it is not possible with the current technology to be able to play together online as there are too many variables, but it is possible to practice together through the use of muting and playing along with a leader. It is also possible to work on the orchestra in a masterclass setting with individuals playing with the opportunity of feedback. This may feel very strange to many of us but I have now been teaching online for many months and the results have been encouraging. I do understand how this may make some members of the orchestra feel so please let me know if you are uncomfortable with this process.

As there is a high likelihood that we may not be able to perform our pieces live, there will be a testing component for registered student members of the orchestra, who will be asked to prepare sections of works to play as mock auditions. I am happy to also provide this function for other members of the ensemble if requested.

Rehearsals will run on Wednesday nights from 7:00 to 10:00, with groups A, B and C, alternating with discussions on the wider string orchestra repertoire and sectionals. Registered music students will be invited to perform leadership roles within the orchestra.

As this is an unusual year and will require an entirely different set of ensemble skills I ask that the members of the orchestra perform a hearing for me.

For community members of the orchestra, let me know if you are uncomfortable with this process. Please understand that I would like to do this in order to help you understand the tensions that can arise from playing online–this is intended to be an aid to you and will be compassionate and supportive. I, myself, have experienced how different it feels when speaking or playing into a microphone.

These hearings will take place the last two weeks of August. Members are asked to prepare two contrasting selections. Hearings will take 8 minutes.