Matthew J. Olson, Director of Choral Activities

Carleton Choir & Chamber Choir

The Carleton Choir consists of 60-70 mixed voices who strive for artistic beauty and a community defined by inclusive belonging. The choir explores diverse musical styles including classical, folk, global, musical theater, pop, and a cappella songs. The Carleton Choir shares concerts each trimester on campus, and also sings at special events including Opening Convocation, Family Weekend, alumni events, and the MLK interfaith service. Additionally, the choir tours regularly, most recently in 2023 to Chicago and Madison, WI. Recent performance highlights include: Orff’s Carmina Burana, Handel’s Messiah with baroque period orchestra, excerpts of Considering Matthew Shephard by Craig Hella Johnson with The Singers – MN Choral Artists, and the premier of The Agitators – a multi-movement work for choirs and jazz band by Laura Caviani. The choir also explores the divide between classical and pop music via recent collaborations with GRAMMY award-winning songwriter Carrie Newcomer, and Chris Koza of the band Rogue Valley. Carleton Choir rehearses Mondays and Wednesdays from 4:45pm – 6:00pm the first 8 weeks of the term.

Chamber Choir is a select ensemble of 22-26 intermediate and advanced singers from within the Carleton Choir who pursue artistic excellence across challenging, diverse music. In addition to concerts and tours with the Carleton Choir, the Chamber Choir collaborates with college and professional choirs from around the region including annual projects with the St. Olaf Chamber Choir. Carleton Chamber Choir members also sing in the Carleton Choir; a full-year commitment is expected (with exceptions given for students in a varsity sport, on a study abroad program, or who have received conductor approval). Chamber Choir rehearses Thursdays from 4:45pm – 6:15pm the first 8 weeks of the term.

Interested Singers

Interested singers (as well as prospective students) may contact Matthew Olson for more information regarding the choir program. Carleton Choir auditions occur every trimester and are casual, consisting of vocal warm-ups, a range check, pitch matching exercises, and a conversation regarding singers’ musical backgrounds. Singers interested in Chamber Choir will also be asked to sight read rhythms and melodies. Because year-long membership in chamber choir is typical, interested singers audition either in the Fall while auditioning for the Carleton Choir (for incoming students), or late Spring for the following academic year (for current students).

Fall 2023 Audition Times

First-Year Students: May sign up via Moodle for available times on September 6, 7, & 8.

  • Wednesday, September 6, 4:40-7:00 pm
  • Thursday, September 7, 12:30-2:00 pm & 4:00-5:00 pm
  • Friday, September 8, 12:00–4:00 pm 

Returning Students: Contact Director of Choral Activities, Matthew Olson.

2023-2024 Highlights

The 2023-2024 year begins with two special collaborations with world-renowned professional choirs. In October, Carleton hosts Voces8 during which the Carleton Choir & Chamber Choir will participate in a masterclass, and then perform alongside the acclaimed choir in concert. Carleton’s Medieval studies program also welcomes Sequentia – the leading experts on medieval choral music – for a week-long residency on Hildegard von Bingen that culminates in a performance. The 2023-2024 year also includes guest conductors and composers, and the first choral-orchestral masterwork collaboration since well before pandemic began – a Spring concert that will surely prove a thrilling and meaningful end to the year.

Recent Tours

2023 Winter Tour | Chicago & Madison

The 2023 winter tour included performances at Madison’s stunning First Unitarian Society, Chicago’s historic 4th Presbyterian Church, the Unitarian Church of Evanston, and a send-off concert in Minnesota. Singers also enjoyed a Q & A with internationally acclaimed countertenor, Reginald Mobley, before hearing him perform Carmina Burana with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

Private Voice Lessons

Private voice lessons are strongly encouraged for members of the Carleton Choir & Chamber Choir. Please visit the Private Voice Lesson Interviews.