Varsity Ensembles

MacPhail Center for Music’s Preeminent High School Music Ensembles for Talented & Highly Motivated Students

MacPhail is pleased to announce the application and audition process for several high school student performance ensembles to begin in Fall of 2023. The Varsity Ensembles will feature highly motivated high school students throughout Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area working with distinguished MacPhail faculty members. Ensembles will rehearse and perform for the entirety of the school year, September 2023 – June 2024. Benefits include audio and video recording, working with guest artists, and building portfolios for college/conservatory auditions. Each student performer in a Varsity Ensemble will be an integral part of the ensemble learning leadership and communication skills in addition to developing as a musician in a small ensemble of student musicians with similar aspirations. Interested students should be open to learning and sharing, and well-prepared and committed to strive for excellence. Participation in the Varsity Ensembles will build friendships, create lasting memories, and make some terrific music along the way.

a woodwind ensemble

Varsity Ensembles:


  • Woodwind Quintet w/ Nina Olsen 
  • Saxophone Quartet w/ Greg Keel 
  • Brass Trio w/ Karl Wiederwohl 
  • Rimshots! (Percussion ensemble) w/ Paul Babcock 

MacPhail Center for Music’s Varsity Ensembles are a FULL-SCHOLARSHIP program for accepted students.

The Varsity Ensembles feature top student talent from around the area. MacPhail esteemed faculty provide superior technical, musical, and performance instruction as well as coaching and mentorship. 

Membership in these ensembles is based on the ability of a student who performs music of above-average difficulty and their demonstration of a high level of commitment and responsibility. An application and audition is required for Varsity Ensembles selection.

Varsity Ensembles: 

All students interested in MacPhail Varsity Ensembles are required to apply and attend a placement audition.  Students will audition for all opportunities and are placed in ensembles that best match their skills and availability. 

Varsity Ensemble Details: 

Ensembles will rehearse and perform for the entirety of the school year, September 2023 – June 2024 at MacPhail Minneapolis.

Overtone Brass Trio w/ Karl Wiederwohl
Tuesdays from 6:00-7:00pm

Rimshots! Percussion Ensemble w/ Paul Babcock & Bjorn Shay-Grina
Saturdays from 2:00-4:00pm

Saxophone Quartet w/ Greg Keel
Saturdays from 3:00-4:00pm

Woodwind Quintet w/ Nina Olsen
Tuesdays from 7:30-9:00pm


There are a handful of chairs to be filled in the Varsity Ensembles. MacPhail is actively recruiting the following instruments:

The deadline to apply for these instruments is now August 31, 2023, using the application form below. Auditions for MacPhail’s Varsity Ensembles are held through pre-recorded video. Students should video record their music selections, uploading the video to YouTube (set to ‘unlisted’). The YouTube link should be included in the application.

Rimshots! Percussion Ensemble application deadline is August 1, 2023, with in-person auditions to be scheduled before August 31. Recording an audition with an accompanist is not required, though backing tracks or accompaniment tracks are permissible.

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