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msmu music ensemble

Visual and Performing Arts - Music


Welcome to the information resource for all things related to the Music Program of the Department of Visual and Performing Arts!

It is our mission to serve as a measure of greatness of the university by providing excellent and rigorous engagement with the discipline of music by and for our students, thereby contributing to a rich and enduring cultural life for the university community. To fulfill this mission, the department offers many types of opportunities for all students, regardless of major, to engage with music.

College of Liberal Arts

The visual and performing arts program is part of the College of Liberal Arts, which is about making connections freely—exploring human achievement, examining the past critically and discovering ways to build upon it, and understanding yourself and our diverse world in order to transform it.

Learn more about the College of Liberal Arts
  • Undergraduate Major
  • Undergraduate Minor
  • Graduate Degree
  • Graduate Certificate
  • Accelerated Undergraduate
  • Adult Undergraduate
  • Special Program


The Department offers opportunities for students of all majors in the University to perform in its musical ensembles. Students from business to biology join music concentrators in the challenges that come from being part of a community of excellent musicians.

No matter which you join, you will experience the highest level of music making, while earning academic credit! Our ensembles perform publicly on and off campus throughout the academic year.

The Department’s instrumental and vocal ensembles are listed below:

msmu chorale students singing


The Chorale sings repertoire from a wide variety of styles, genres, languages, and cultural traditions. The choir performs at least two major concerts per semester, as well as college liturgies, special convocations, and other events throughout the year. Prior choral experience is desirable, but not a requirement. The Chorale is a charter member of the Mid-Atlantic South Intercollegiate Choral Association, which holds an annual choir festival at one of the member schools. Entry by audition. Available for audit, one, or two credits.

msmu wind ensemble playing a concert

Wind Ensemble

The Wind Ensemble engages a broad variety of music encompassing standard wind ensemble repertoire, big band jazz, and avant-garde chamber works. Previous performance experience is essential for participation. Instruments can be provided if necessary. For experienced wind and percussion players. Instruments are available. Please contact Dr. Mark Carlson with any questions and to audition. Available for audit, one or two credits.

msmu string ensemble students

String Ensemble

The Mount St. Mary’s University String Ensemble performs classical string ensemble repertoire under the direction of Professor James Tung. All string players are invited to register: violins, violas, cellos and basses. Previous performance experience is expected. Contact Prof. James Tung regarding ensemble placement. Instruments can be provided if necessary. Available for audit, one or two credits.

msmu lab band playing a concert

Lab Band

The Lab Band is a collective of instrumentalists dedicated to performance of popular music styles including jazz, rock, hip-hop and ambient music. The class forms different groups over the course of a semester depending on the project and repertoire being studied. Previous concerts have involved an annual Fat Tuesday/ Mardi Gras revue, themed programs such as Punk, 90s styles, combo jazz and avant-garde music. Previous performance experience is essential. Instruments can be provided if necessary. Wind and percussion instrumentalists must play in the Wind Ensemble in order to be eligible for membership in the Lab Bands. Contact Dr. Mark Carlson with questions. Previous performance experience is essential for participation. Available for audit, one or two credits.

percussion ensemble at msmu

Percussion Ensemble

Percussion ensemble is available to experienced percussionists and drummers. Students will learn to play a variety of percussion instruments and engage music drawn from the indoor drumline, percussion ensemble and “world” percussion repertoires. Contact Dr. Mark Carlson with questions. Available for audit, or one credit.

msmu flute ensemble students

Flute Ensemble

Dedicated to the flute ensemble repertoire this course is available to all experienced flutists. The class performs at least once per semester on and off campus. Piccolo, alto flute, and bass flute, available. Please contact Prof. Jennifer Witt or Dr. Carlson with any questions. Available for audit or one credit.

pep band playing at a basketball game

Pep Band

Known for its powerful sound and exciting repertoire, the band is comprised of students of any major who play standard band instruments, which also includes the MSMU drumline! The Pep Band welcomes anyone with a good attitude who loves live performance to come and make music with us! The pep band is supported by the Music Area of the VPA Department and funded through Mount Athletics. Learn more about the Pep Band.

opera singer during a performance at msmu

Opera Workshop

Ensemble members work on and perform either full theatrical musical works or scenes from operas, musicals and operettas. The ensemble must be taken in conjunction with voice lessons (FAMU 151, 251 or 351). In-person only. Entry by audition by audition or permission of instructor. Available for one, or two credits.

Private Music Lessons

All students, regardless of major, may enroll in private, individual instrumental or vocal lessons for credit with one of our seasoned professional performers.

Lessons are available in:

  • Voice
  • Flute
  • Oboe
  • Bassoon
  • Clarinet
  • Saxophone
  • Horn
  • Trumpet
  • Trombone
  • Euphonium
  • Tuba
  • Percussion
  • Guitar
  • Piano
  • Violin
  • Viola
  • 'Cello
  • Double Bass
  • Electric Bass

Reach out to the Department to coordinate scheduling, navigate the fee structure or request instruction on other instruments.

Classroom Courses in Music

The Music Program’s rigorous curriculum offers students many ways to engage with the arts practically and intellectually, whether as a major, minor, or general student. Our courses cover many topics in music history, theory, and technology. Major courses in each discipline are also available to non-majors as electives. Courses that have been taught include:

  • Music History Survey (3-Course Sequence)
  • Music Theory (4-Course Sequence)
  • Musicianship

Special Topics Electives, such as:

  • Afro-Futurism
  • Conducting
  • Sacred Music: The Jewish Tradition
  • Music Recording
  • Music Appreciation
  • Music and Social Movements
  • African-American Music History

For a current list of courses, consult the undergraduate catalog.

The Major-Degree Concentration in Music

Music serves as one of the three academic concentrations contained within the Department of Visual and Performing Arts. The concentration and all of its curricular and co-curricular activities seek to:

  • Provide strong foundational training for students seeking to pursue a career or further study in music;
  • Lead all students, regardless of major, to the understanding that music, like all the arts, is governed by the demands of a rigorous technical, intellectual, aesthetic, and spiritual process;
  • Guide all students in the development of the ability to reflect critically and independently on the creative and aesthetic process and product;
  • Provide a meaningful and excellent musical experience for all members of the Mount community;
  • Serve the Mount community’s academic, spiritual, and cultural needs;
  • Impart upon the students and the community the understanding that we are all the stewards of a precious artistic and cultural legacy.

The Bachelor of Arts degree with concentration in music prepares one for a life in music as a professional, as a graduate student, or as an avocational performer. Join a community of music students who, like recent alum and 2-time Emmy® winner Peter Kelly, have been challenged by our rigorous music history and theory curriculum, studied voice or instruments one-on-one with professional performers, and have honed their skills in one of our outstanding choral and instrumental ensembles.

The music program offers you the benefits of smaller classes, individual mentoring and guidance, complemented by a liberal arts core curriculum that will help you think critically and prepare you to succeed and shape our world.

View a list of courses and requirements for the music concentration and music minor.

Want to see a list of the courses and requirements for a Music concentration?

Courses and requirements for Music concentration

Concerts and Other Departmental Events

In addition to performances by student ensembles and soloists, every semester the Department offers concerts free of charge by faculty and renowned visiting performers. Past concerts have included:

  • Fat Tuesday / Mardi Gras
  • St. Cecilia's Day Concerts
  • Christmas Concerts
  • The Music of Michael Giacchino
  • The Music of John Williams
  • DeMeij’s Symphony I for Band
  • MASICA Consortium Concerts
  • Modernity events linking music and 20th Century Social History (Post-Modernism in the 90’s, Punk, Afrofuturism and Black Panther, Post-War European Identity, 1970’s Black Identity, The End of History as depicted in Terminator II)

Department Ensemble Scholarships


The Mount offers a $500 scholarship (renewable up to four years) to participate in the one of the department’s flagship ensembles, the Chorale, The Wind Ensemble, or the String Ensemble.

The application process is simple. All you do is fill out the application available through the Office of Admissions, submit a video recording of yourself performing on your primary instrument or voice. Here are some guidelines for the recording:

  • Instrumentalists: two contrasting works for your primary instrument (etudes, solos, or substantial excerpts), accompanied or unaccompanied, totaling approximately 10-15 minutes of music.
  • Vocalists: two contrasting arias, art songs, or musical theatre pieces; all pieces must be suitable for your voice type, accompanied live or with a pre-recorded accompanied tracks
  • Also important:
    • Recordings of prior concerts or performances will not be accepted.
    • Recordings made on smartphones or tablets are acceptable as long as the visual and audio quality is clear.
    • Recordings must be submitted as a link to YouTube.

Contact the Office of Admissions for more information:

Apply for a scholarship

Furthering Your Career

Internship Opportunities

The Department provides internship opportunities to assist in your career plans.

Career Opportunities

Participation in musical study and activities provide skills such as creative problem solving, goal-directed discipline, teamwork, and leadership that are transferable to professions and disciplines. According to Liz Ryan in Forbes Magazine: “musical kids are smart. They could major in lots of things apart from music. They choose to major in music because they love it. Musical kids…know about focus. Corporations know how smart and capable musical kids are. Music instruction is all about patience and listening. That is something all of us could learn from music students!”

Liz Ryan, “Ten Reasons to Let Your Kid Major in Music”, Forbes Magazine, 6/4/2017

That’s why our music concentrators follow a variety of professional and educational paths after they leave the Mount, including:

  • Graduate Study in Musicology
  • Graduate Study in Performance
  • Arts Management
  • Audio Engineering & Sound Design
  • Computer Science
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Military Service
  • Music Research
  • Music Performance
  • Religious Education
  • University Student Life Administration

Meet our Faculty

Mark Carlson, DMA

Mark Carlson, DMA

Associate Professor of Music

Director of Instrumental Ensembles

Laura Armstrong

Laura Armstrong

Lecturer in Clarinet and Saxophone

Philip Ravita

Philip Ravita

Lecturer in Electric Bass

James Tung

James Tung

lecturer in violin an viola

Director of String Ensemble

John Wickelgren

John Wickelgren

lecturer in piano

Francesca Aguado

Francesca Aguado

lecturer in voice

Danielle Karppala

Danielle Karppala

lecturer in cello

Matthew Ogden

Matthew Ogden

lecturer in bassoon

John Pursell

John Pursell

lecturer in trumpet


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