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The Mahagonny Ensemble

The Mahagonny Ensemble, founded in 2000 with a performance of the Kurt Weill operetta, Mahagonny Songspiel, is a completely student-run musical ensemble dedicated to promoting the creativity of instrumentalists, singers, and composers interested in performing and writing contemporary classical music. Our goal is to give a voice to unique works from the last 100 years that may otherwise not be heard at Vassar.

The Mahagonny Ensemble is a member of the Vassar Student Association, through whom we acquire a great part of our funding and support. Our conductors and officers are all active students at Vassar College. The ensemble rehearses regularly during the academic year, leading to one public concert each semester presented under the auspices of the Vassar College Music Department.  The ensemble also commissions works from alumnae/i and holds a student composer competition each year to premiere new works of current students. We also occasionally produce additional, smaller performances for such venues as dorm functions, student parties, faculty engagements, and special events. Over the past few years, Mahagonny has been featured in Modfest, the Vassar Music Department’s annual modern music festival.

Recent Repertoire

  • Arvo Pärt, Summa for Strings and Choir
  • Aaron Copland, Nonet for Strings
  • Randall Thompson, The Road Not Taken
  • Maurice Duruflé, Ubi Caritas
  • Benjamin Britten, Sinfonietta
  • Elliott Carter, The Harmony of Morning
  • Elliott Carter, Musicians Wrestle Everywhere
  • Aaron Copland, Appalachian Spring, original version for 13 instruments
  • Pascal Dusapin, Umbrae Mortis
  • Charles Ives, The Unanswered Question
  • Gyorgy Ligeti, Ejszaka and Reggel
  • Gyorgy Ligeti, The Alphabet
  • Witold Lutoslawski, Dance Preludes
  • James MacMillan, A Child's Prayer
  • Gian Carlo Menotti, The Unicorn, the Gorgon and the Manticore
  • Darius Milhaud, La Création du monde
  • Francis Poulenc, Un Soir de Neige
  • Steve Reich, Music for Pieces of Wood
  • Carl Ruggles, Angels
  • Igor Stravinsky, Dumbarton Oaks Concerto in E-flat for Chamber Orchestra
  • Igor Stravinsky, Mass
  • Igor Stravinsky, Octet
  • Toru Takemitsu, Bryce

Past Musical Directors of the Mahagonny Ensemble

  • Julia Boscov-Ellen ’15
  • Sam Plotkin ’15
  • Will Healy ’12, Working as a freelance pianist and composer in New York City.
  • Naomi Dubin ’12, Working as a Teaching Artist and intern for the Music Education Outreach program at 92nd Street Y in New York City.
  • Mark Van Hare ’10,Working as a sound designer and composer in New York City.
  • Catherine O'Kelly ’11,Studying guitar performance at Hartt School of Music.
  • Ian Garvie ’07, Currently pursuing a Masters in orchestral conducting at the Bard Conservatory of Music.
  • Thomas Heuser ’05, Completed a Masters in orchestral conducting at Indiana University; currently pursuing a DMA in orchestral conducting at Indiana University.
  • Yaniv Segal ’03, Founder and conductor of the Chelsea Symphony Orchestra in New York City.
  • Nathan Hetherington ’01, Founder of the Mahagonny Ensemble. After graduation, Nathan earned an MM degree from Manhattan School of Music. He now conducts in New York and is on the faculty of the Manhattan School of Music pre-college division.