Collegium Musicum: A Wednesday afternoon treat

Weekly concerts provide Mt. A’s music students with helpful and encouraging performance opportunities

Every Wednesday at 4 p.m., music lovers gather in Brunton Auditorium to hear students from the bachelor of music program present their hard work onstage. Admission is free and all are welcome for this weekly display of Mount Allison talent.

Since the beginning of the bachelor of music over 100 years ago, the University faculty has prioritized providing performance opportunities for students. All music students are encouraged, if not required, to participate in these performances at least once a year. Depending on the studio and what the particular student is pursuing career-wise, a professor might make participating in Collegium mandatory. There are some instances where students can choose whether or not to make an appearance on the stage.

Collegium Musicum is a form of smaller concert that dates back to the early- to mid-17th century. The idea behind these concerts at Mt. A is for student musicians to perform the music they have been working on throughout the semester in an environment that is less formal than a recital or audition. Many students use it as a sort of practice run. Students are often graded on these performances in their applied music classes, however a lot of students use Collegium as a way to gain performance experience or to get rid of nerves before important performances or auditions. “Collegium is a wonderful opportunity for music students to perform in front of their colleagues and professors,” said Madeleine Gaudet, a third-year pianist. “It allows them to learn more about themselves as performers. The department is incredibly supportive and it is a great weekly event.”

Music students are typically required to sign up for one collegium per semester and must perform a selection from the repertoire they are given at the beginning of the school year. Each collegium has approximately five to eight students performing and lasts about an hour. This allows for a diverse performance, usually including a wide range of instrumental and vocal works. Throughout the school year, the department hosts a series of special edition Collegium performances. These include a Christmas-themed performance, a chapel performance and one which shows off compositions written by students of the department.

A low-stress environment is often helpful to students who have performance anxiety. The audience also has the opportunity after each collegium to chat with the musicians and offer their feedback in the lobby of the conservatory. This feedback is an important aspect of the collegium.

“People will often approach performers to congratulate them on their work,” explained third-year voice student Emily Steers. “Collegiums are an essential part of the music community here at Mt. A. It’s a part of being a supportive and collegial group. We support and cheer each other on and we try to make performance a safe environment, because performance is always a little terrifying!”

These performances are important for the education and musical development of these students. It not only provides them with a goal toward which to strive, it also provides a record of their progress as musicians. Each collegium is recorded by student technicians so performers can listen to their performance and critique themselves, as learning from one’s mistakes is a large part of any degree.

These opportunities are vital to the education of music students at Mt. A. There is nothing that could prepare them to be professional musicians more practically than the chance to take the stage as many times as needed.

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