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Directors Circle

Feb 19, 2020

In this episode, I speak with renowned conductor and composer, Dr. Timothy Mahr. Dr. Mahr is an active composer for wind band and is also a professor of music at St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN. Dr. Mahr shares some valuable insight into the art of composing and creating a culture of excellence in a music program. 


Topics include:

(02:28) Tim talks about his life, professional background, and band at St. Olaf College

(15:28) Achieving excellence across an entire music department

(20:32) Guiding traditions and changes in a music program

(26:19) Repertoire Selection

(33:53) Time talks about his work as a composer and how he got his start

(39:44) Maintaining work-life balance as a composer and conductor

(51:04) How Tim’s work as a composer has influenced his work as an educator

(1:11:37) Getting musicians to fall in love with music

(54:21) Favorite rehearsal tactics

(59:13) Why do we teach music? 

(1:03:18) Todd discusses leaders that have made an impact on his life 

(1:06:32) Advice for music educators



Timothy Mahr’s Website:

Mahr’s page at St. Olaf College:

Mahr conducting “Bright Side” with the St. Olaf Band -

Mahr conducting “Suite for Band” with the St. Olaf Band -

Mahr’s “Endurance” performed by the Metropolitan Wind Symphony -



Since the premiere of Fantasia in G in 1983, Timothy Mahr's compositions have been performed worldwide, recorded, and broadcast. The first recipient within the American Bandmasters Association Commissioning Project, Mahr has composed works for the Music Educators National Conference, the United States Air Force Band, the American School Band Directors Association, and the Kappa Kappa Psi/Tau Beta Sigma National Intercollegiate Band.  He received the 1991 ABA/Ostwald Award for his work The Soaring Hawk.   A professor of music at St. Olaf College, Dr. Timothy Mahr conducts the St. Olaf Band, and has taught courses in composition, music education, and conducting.

A well-known composer, Mahr has written over 100 works, many of which are published for band and orchestra­­. Beyond The Soaring Hawk, five other works have been finalists in national composition contests. He has received more than 70 commissions over the years.

Mahr is a past president of the North Central Division of the College Band Directors National Association and has served on the Board of Directors of the National Band Association and the Minnesota Band Directors Association.  He has led the St. Olaf Band in performance at the national conventions of the American Bandmasters Association (1997), Music Educators National Conference (2005) and College Band Directors National Association (2013).

Mahr has appeared in 38 states as a guest conductor and clinician, including leading over twenty all-state bands, and he has also been engaged professionally in Norway, Canada, Mexico, Thailand, Japan, Singapore, New Zealand, and Australia.  For more information, visit his website at