Guitar Ensemble

Coordinator: Dr. Garry Antonio

Participation: Entrance is by audition.  This ensemble is open to music students, and McGill University students from other faculties.

About Guitar Ensemble

Welcome to the Guitar Ensemble at the Schulich School of Music. The small ensemble program is one of the great strengths of the comprehensive training for professional musicians offered at the school, and we hope it will be one of the highlights of your studies at McGill.

Guitar Ensemble is an integral part of the Performance curriculum, along with lessons and participation in a large ensemble. In fact, Guitar Ensemble and large ensemble are a co-requisite of lessons – you must maintain registration in both a large ensemble and Guitar Ensemble (during at least two terms of enrolment), whether full-time or part-time, regardless of the number of credits you have earned (any extra credits may be applied towards complementary music electives). Please refer to your specific program for the ensemble policy and your ensemble requirements.

Coaching and Rehearsals

Each ensemble receives 11 coaching sessions per semester. One rehearsal is expected between each coaching session.

If for unavoidable reasons (serious medical problems, family emergencies, etc.) you wish to cancel a scheduled coaching, please give at least 24 hours notice. Most coaches will do their utmost to reschedule any lost time. Last-minute cancellations will not be made up.


Performance of prepared repertoire is one of the hallmarks of the McGill Guitar Ensemble. Each semester, the ensemble presents several works in a public concert in Tanna Schulich Hall, Pollack Hall, or Redpath Hall. The Guitar Ensemble is aligned with the Composition Department, and often presents world premieres of new music by our composition students.
The experience of public performance is critical in the training of a performing artist, and the level of professionalism expected and exhibited in these concerts is a testament to the rich tradition of ensemble coaching and performance at McGill. The concerts at the end of each session have become popular events and have developed a strong public following in Montréal.

Dress code: black is good! Dress is informal and left to the discretion of each ensemble, but must be professional (not casual).

Concert dates are published in advance. Once the provisional schedule is published in mid-October, students must write back immediately by email to detail any scheduling conflicts. Scheduling concerts is a difficult task and we try to honour requests for date changes – but this is not always possible. There are many factors to be taken into account, including presenting balanced programs in terms of instrumentation and repertoire, etc.

Please show support for your colleagues by attending other concerts whenever possible. There is no policy that requires attendance – and we'd like to keep it that way! When you do make the effort to attend a concert, please stay for as long as possible – arriving or leaving between groups or soloists can be distracting and is potentially disrespectful to others.

Marks and Evaluation

Marks will be awarded by your coach and will be an aggregate of the evaluation of the work you present each week in coaching sessions and an evaluation of the final performance (normally 50/50). In the case where ensembles are team-taught by two coaches, the mark will be an average of the evaluation of each coach.

The first part of the mark includes an assessment of your preparation demonstrated in rehearsals, the progress you make every week, the quickness of response to directions given, and the degree of participation exhibited in rehearsals and coaching sessions, etc. The result obtained in the final concert is judged according to criteria of the potential and preparation of the ensemble.

On rare occasions, if one person in the ensemble is consistently ill-prepared for rehearsals and coachings, often misses scheduled rehearsals without giving notice or has been otherwise less than professional and cooperative – this will be reflected in their mark.

Rehearsal etiquette

  • Be prepared!  Know your part – practise the technically difficult passages – make good choices for artistic fingerings – put bar numbers in your parts – have proposals ready for awkward passages, but be flexible in taking suggestions from others. Listen to a recording of the work. Have a copy of the score – study it for variants in your part.
  • Always be on time.
  • Be patient and courteous, listen to others, contribute actively, and frame comments in a positive fashion. Have a pencil ready at all times. If you must cancel a rehearsal – do it ahead – no messages five minutes before the scheduled start time! Your colleagues will already be waiting for you and justifiably upset that their time has been wasted. In short, treat others with the same respect with which you wish to be treated in all circumstances.
  • Tuning. Tune from one “A.” Have your instrument in good repair so that you are able to tune quickly and efficiently. Don't tune or talk or otherwise distract others while they are tuning.
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