Navigate Our Site
Search Site

Contemporary Vocal Ensemble


The Contemporary Vocal Ensemble at McNally Smith Contemporary Vocal Ensemble (CVE) is a premier ensemble at McNally Smith College of Music. The group features 6-12 vocalists and a rhythm section. Their repertoire is drawn from challenging contemporary vocal and instrumental music including Jazz, Pop, R &B and Latin styles. Students rehearse four hours a week and maintain an active schedule performing, traveling and recording in the McNally Smith McKern Recording Studios.

CVE is the featured ensemble at the McNally Smith Vocal Jazz Festival each spring and spends time recording in the McKern Studio Recording complex each semester. The group has played an important role in educational outreach at the College participating in the Oceanside Jazz Festival (CA), the Eau Claire Jazz Festival (WI) and the New York Voices Festival (IL). CVE was proud to represent McNally Smith at the 2013 ACDA-MN convention and the 2015 MMEA Winter Conference. In 2016 the group won an “Outstanding Ensemble” award at the Kansas City Jazz Summit. The ensemble tours regularly with recent travels including Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana and Texas.


Vocal audition:

1)    Please fill out the electronic ensemble department form. This is a very important step!
2)    Sign up for a time on my office door- room 86
3)    Sign and return the CVE contract I will send you via email.  Students are expected to participate in the ensemble for the entire academic calendar year and adhere to the McNally Smith College of Music Code of Student Conduct.
4)    Prepare a song that shows off your range, tone, ability to mix registers, and personality. Part of it must be sung with straight tone. This is an important skill for this type of harmony to sound correct. This also helps me save your voice if your technique is not ready yet. Please bring sheet music with you at your audition.
5)    You will be asked to sight sing a portion of a piece of music.
6)    You will be asked to repeat different sequences of pitches including some harmonization/concentration skills.

Check your emails for an invitation to callbacks. Callbacks will be held after the first round of auditions is completed.  Call back music will be made available via email.  I will indicate which part to learn. To determine potential for blend, balance and group dynamics I will hear you in small groupings. Please bring a Microphone. It is expected that notes and rhythms will be accurate, nearly memorized and ready for any artistic alterations I might make in the callback audition. You may also be asked to improvise on a 12-bar blues.

Rhythm Section:

You will be asked to sight read and demonstrate Swing, Latin and Funk grooves. Please email me to confirm that you would like to audition for the rhythm section and not a vocal spot.