Music at Knox College is designed for students who love music and wish to excel. Students pursuing the major will find a curriculum that provides a thorough and rigorous foundation for tomorrow's performer, conductor, scholar, and teacher, drawing on both western and global traditions.
Knox has active, award-winning performing ensembles -- the Knox College Choir, Knox Jazz Ensemble and 8 combos, String Ensemble, and the Knox-Galesburg Symphony. Individual instruction is available on all instruments (including organ and guitar) and voice.
Introductory courses are offered in music history, theory, and music education, with topical classes such as Intro to Music, Intro to Musicology, Music of the African Diaspora, Jazz History, and Music Songwriting in the United States. Upper-level courses deal with a broad range of musical genres and periods, with topical classes generally organized as seminars. Many students also advance through independent study in theory, history, composition, performance practice, and musicology.
Students may elect to receive academic credit for participation in the following groups:
This elite group, drawn from the Knox Choir membership, specializes in vocal chamber music from all time periods and performs many concerts on and off campus. Every other spring, Chamber Singers present a Madrigal Dinner, a musical play written and performed by the members.
Galesburg Community Chorus
This 70-voice community-based, non-auditioned group performs major choral works with orchestra. Recent concerts have included Orff's "Carmina Burana," Poulenc's "Gloria," and Vaughan Williams's "Dona Nobis Pacem."
The 9 Jazz Combos perform on campus, off campus and regionally. The Cherry Street Combo is featured every Thursday night at McGillacuddy's in downtown Galesburg. Specialized combos include a Latin Jazz combo and a Dixieland combo. Membership in these groups is open to any student interested in learning improvisation and standing jazz vocabulary and interaction, with the exception of the Cherry St. Combo, which is auditioned.
Knox College Chamber Ensemble
The Knox Wind Ensemble is a unique performance opportunity. Because the ensemble is open to all interested Knox students, the roster of instruments is not predetermined. The director, Dan Godsil, is an award winning composer who writes or commissions works designed specifically for the make-up of the ensemble each term. The ensemble rehearses weekly and performs formal concerts three times a year.
Knox College Choir
Directed by Laura Lane, the choir performs a variety of choral literature from the 16th century to the present. The choir has performed in Carnegie Hall and toured in Austria, England, Spain and throughout the United States.
Knox College String Ensemble
Directed by Knox-Galesburg Symphony principal cello Carolyn Suda, this student organization specializes in music of the Baroque and Classical eras and is open without audition.
A professional orchestra open to students through audition, the orchestra has three times been recognized with the prestigious Illinois Orchestra of the Year Award. Its conductor, Bruce Polay, chair of the music department, has won the coveted Illinois Conductor of the Year Award for an unprecedented third time. The symphony, which recently toured Spain, performs six concerts annually in Galesburg's historic Orpheum Theater (four blocks from campus), and the annual Concert on the Lawn on campus the evening of Commencement each June.
Knox Jazz Ensemble
This award-winning group consists of selected, auditioned members who tour and perform at collegiate jazz festivals, in addition to hosting the annual Knox-Rootabaga Jazz Festival. The ensemble tours internationally and has recorded four CD's including "Mr. B Natural" and "No Excuses."
Knox-Sandburg Community Concert Band
The band is made up of some 60 Knox musicians, community members and local band directors. Membership is open to all qualified instrumentalists. It rehearses weekly and performs three major concerts during the school year.
The Men's ensemble has become a popular source of fun and inspiration for the men on campus. Open to all men regardless of musical background, the ensemble meets once a week and is dedicated to a wide range of music.
This ensemble rehearses twice a week, with a performance each term. Open without audition, the Women's Chorale performs a wide repertoire from classical to pop.
Denise Cooksey, Flute Choir
Andy Crawford, Jazz Combos
Laurel Filzen Etzel, Knox-Galesburg Community Concert Band
Daniel Godsil, Knox College Chamber Ensemble
Kevin Hart, Jazz Combo
David Hoffman, Jazz combos
Laura Lane, director of choral activities, Knox College Choir
Kevin Malley, Jazz Combos
Nicole Malley, Knox College Jazz Ensemble
Bruce Polay, Artistic Director/Conductor, Knox-Galesburg Symphony
Carolyn Suda, Cello Choir, String Ensemble
The music department, with its spacious studios and classrooms, is found in the Eleanor Abbott Ford Center for the Fine Arts. The acoustically superb, 325-seat Kresge Recital Hall houses recently-purchased 9' Steinway "D" and 6'6" Kawai GS concert pianos, and a pipe organ. (Photo: The Knox-Galesburg Symphony performs in the restored Orpheum Theatre in Galesburg.)
Jay Rehearsal Hall has built-in risers for choral and instrumental groups. The department has 16 practice rooms, each equipped with a recently-purchased Kawai piano, which are available to students 24 hours a day. Another resource is the department's MIDI and digital music lab.
Performers and composers of national and international acclaim are regular guests of the Knox-Galesburg Symphony, the Rootabaga Jazz Festival, and the Nova Singers, a professional vocal ensemble directed by Laura Lane. Recent guests have included Mikhail Petukhov, resident piano soloist of the Moscow Philharmonic; Mikhail Tsinman, concertmaster of the Bolshoi Theatre Symphony and Chamber Orchestras; Christina Anghelescu, violin soloist of the Romanian National Radio Orchestra; and composers David Finko, Thomas Benjamin, Moses Hogan, and Ruth Watson Henderson.
Leading up to a worldwide event -- Gun Control Theatre Action Week, May 27 through June 2 -- a play by Knox College theatre professor Neil Blackadder was selected for a new collection, "24 Gun Control Plays."
Rana Tahir, a double major in creative writing and political science, wrote dozens of poems and created 29 paintings after interviewing Kuwaiti residents about the 1990 Iraqi occupation.
Knox College awarded more than $1,750 in prizes in the 2013 Al Young Art Show. Organizing 200 art works in an array of media is a challenge, according student Katie O'Connor, who helped arrange the entries.