By Mark Cadigan
For its 36 majors, the Holy Cross Music Department is a
home away from home.
"I think our students tend to 'hang out' in the department,
and the majors form a group, a community," says Professor
Korde, Chair of the department. "They see the Music Department as a place where
they come to study music as well as meet and talk to their friends.
It's much more than just an academic department for them. They often come by
to say 'hello' to Jacky Anderson, (department secretary since 1980) before
they go to the library."
Classrooms, which also serve as practice rooms,
teachers' offices, and the music library are all located in the John E. Brooks,
S.J., Center for Music, so music majors spend a great deal of time there.
The Department is especially proud of Brooks Concert Hall, which offers a
beautiful, acoustically excellent space for attending and participating
in concerts, and is equipped with a professional caliber recording studio.
concerts were presented in Brooks Concert Hall in 1996-97.
But listing the rooms in the Brooks Center
does not suffice to explain what attracts the music majors to spend so much
time in the building. They congregate there for so many hours
because they enjoy the atmosphere of the Music Department, the interactions
among students, teachers and staff.
And the students are often still in the building
at night. "Sometimes I go in there in the evening to pick up something from
my office and I'm always astounded at the number of them that are there," continues
"I think this is a unique place, says Associate Professor
Osvaldo Golijov. I can say that I feel blessed here by the collegial support,
the friendship, the commitment to serious work but in a very nice atmosphere.
And I think that that's what the students feel. That's why they are here all
Comments from a couple of music majors support their
professors' views. Maria Purciello '98 considers the music faculty's dedication
"I've never come across a department quite like the
Music Department, in the sense that professors and students all get along very
well, both inside and outside of the classroom," she says. "All the professors
on this campus are approachable, but none quite so much as the Music Department. They'll
go out of their way to make time for you."
Purciello points to a recent occurrence as being
indicative of the generosity within the department. She had a problem trying
to schedule an entrance exam for one of the graduate schools she applied to
and needed a professor to give the 5 1/2 hour exam during Christmas break. "I
had three professors volunteer to give up a day of their life to administer
this test," she says.
Like Purciello, Dan DiCenso '98 studies musicology, has applied to graduate
schools, and hopes to eventually earn his Ph.D. and teach at the college
level. He believes the Music Department combines heartfelt concern with commendable
academic and professional credentials.
"Holy Cross has excellent professors who are the masters, the authorities in
their fields," he notes. "And a lot of schools have that; they have people who
are masters. But we have genuine, honest-to-God, caring, good people here who
watch out for their students, who nurture their students and who have a true
interest not only in doing their scholarship or playing the piano or performing
on the organ, but in teaching their students. It's kind of an unsaid philosophy
here: to whom much has been given, much is expected. It seems to me that the
professors here have been given a lot and they realize that and they give a lot
back. They give freely and liberally of their time, their attention and they
really take care of you."
The Music Department includes five tenured or tenure-track professors: Associate
Professor Carol Lieberman (currently Acting Chair while Korde is on a yearlong
sabbatical), Assistant Professor Geoffrey Burleson, Assistant Professor Jessica
Waldoff, plus Korde and Golijov.
"The caliber of the faculty is extremely high," notes
Lieberman, and the cumulative experience of the members of the department confirms
Korde, who began teaching music at Holy Cross in
1977, has composed works for solo instruments, chamber ensembles, electronic
media and music theatre. He has received numerous grants and awards for his
compositions, which have been recorded for labels such as Spectrum and Neuma,
and have been featured at festivals and concerts throughout the U.S., Europe,
Australia and South America.
Lieberman, a faculty member since 1985, is a violinist who is particularly
accomplished in music from the baroque and classical eras as well as the 19th
and 20th centuries. She has made several recordings, including a world premiere
album of sonatas of Simon
LeDuc and C. P. E. Bach, and has toured throughout North and South America
and Europe. She has been concerto soloist with the Boston Pops Orchestra,
Handel & Haydn Society and other orchestras
in Europe and Canada.
Golijov joined the Music Department in 1991, prior to receiving first prize at
the Kennedy Center's Friedheim Awards competition for a chamber music composition
in both 1993 and 1995. Among
his many other awards and prizes is the prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship
in Music Composition, which he was granted in 1995. He has been commissioned
to compose pieces by cities, music festivals and ensembles such as the Kronos
Quartet, and many of his works have been recorded.
Burleson started teaching in the Music Department part-time in 1991 and full-time
in 1992. Winner of Special Commendations in the 1995 Vienna Modern Masters International
Performers' Competition, he performs a broad repertoire of works from the romantic,
classical and baroque periods. He is especially noted for his interpretations
of 20th century music, and has made solo and duo recordings for Vienna Modern
Music & Arts, CRI and Neuma. He has performed as solo pianist, and with chamber
music groups throughout the U.S. and Europe.
Waldoff came to the Music Department in 1995, just a few months after earning
her Ph.D. from Cornell University. A musicologist, she has received a number
of fellowships, grants and awards for her writing, research and teaching. Among
her published works are several about opera,
including "The Music of Recognition: Operatic Enlightenment in The Magic
Flute" (Music & Letters, 1994).
Along with this core group of professors are many lecturers, instructors and
others involved with the department in
some capacity, a group that Burleson calls, "extremely essential and wonderfully
talented and giving people." These include: James David Christie, Distinguished
Artist in Residence, College Organist and director of the Schola Cantorum, a
Holy Cross liturgical choir; Nym Cooke, lecturer in musicology; Katarina Miljkovic,
lecturer and composer; Mike Monaghan, lecturer in jazz and director of the Jazz
Ensemble and Jazz Combo; Frances Flannery, lecturer in the electronic music studio;
Alan Karass, music librarian; Bruce I. Miller, director of the College Choir
and Chamber Singers; Peter L. Cokkinias, conductor of the Chamber Orchestra and
Brass Ensemble; and Robert A. Principe, director of the Holy Cross Crusader Marching
Band, Color Guard and Pep
Instrumental and vocal instructors include: Joel Cohen, cello; Jean DeMart, flute;
John Emery, violin and viola; Marian C. Hanshaw, piano; Jane Harrison, oboe;
Hugh Hinton, piano; Bruce Hopkins, trumpet; Robert Schulz, percussion; Robert
Sullivan, guitar; Maria Tegzes,
voice; and Marsha Vleck, voice.
As Lieberman says, "Our adjunct faculty who come to teach lessons each week,
are all noted soloists."
The faculty's wealth of professional and academic experience and varied approaches
to teaching result in a special kind of
Music Department, according to Waldoff. "We each ask the students to do different
kinds of assignments and we emphasize different aspects of music. The students
welcome these varying approaches, and can bring some skills
from one person's class to another's," she says. "The challenge for them is to
put those pieces together."
Students have the opportunity to take a wide range of courses in the Music Department.
Music majors are required to take at least ten courses in the department, including
four semesters of the Theory of Music, two of the History of Western Music and
Senior Seminar which integrates History, Theory and Performance. The department
also offers Music & Theatre, American Popular Song, Music of the Medieval/Renaissance
Era, Music of the Classical Era, Music of the Baroque Era, Introduction to Electronic
Music (using the department's computer music studio), Music of Latin America,
Music of India, Music of Japan, Jazz Improvisation, Special Topics courses, various
and many more.
During the 1996-97 academic year, Balinese Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence I Nyoman
Cerita and his family introduced Holy Cross students to gamelan music in two
consecutive Special Topics
courses. Participating students performed concerts at Holy Cross, the Worcester
Public Schools and Brown University.
"I think for the size of the College and for the
size of the department, we have a very eclectic mix," notes Lieberman, who
also mentions the variety of performing ensembles that students can join. These
include student-run ensembles such as the Naturals, an all-male a cappella
group, and the Delilahs, an all-female a cappella group.
In addition to having the opportunity to join ensembles that perform many styles
of music, including jazz and classical, students can also hear their
teachers, perform on campus together with professional guest artists in faculty
ensembles such as the Holy Cross Chamber Players, co-directed by Lieberman
and Korde. There are many other concerts given by professionals from outside
"I think the idea is to create a thriving musical community at Holy Cross, one
that has different stylistic and aesthetic concerns, so that students would participate
in these different activities," says Korde. "We believe that they really learn
the most by actually doing music, by playing or singing. There's no substitute
Just as the students hold their teachers in high regard, members of the music
faculty express equally positive feelings about their students.
"You can see the incredible progress that they make
as human beings from the first year to the fourth year, which
is great," says Golijov.
"The students here are of such a high quality, and they have a refreshingly positive
attitude and outlook," says Burleson. "These students are very catalytic and
"I think the Holy Cross students are really willing to respond to some of the
bigger questions," says Waldoff, though
she adds, "sometimes I get into trouble with it." When one student reacts to
an exam question about Beethoven's late style by asking how long he or she should
take to answer it, Waldoff replies, "Well, ideally, the rest
of your life," which elicits widespread laughter in the classroom.
Monaghan, who began teaching at Holy Cross in 1986, plays saxophone with the
Boston Pops, and has performed with Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin
and many more, says, "These are exceptional
students." He also uses humor to build a rapport with them. When a student who
has to leave his Jazz Improvisation I class a little early gets up to go, Monaghan
slyly quips to the remaining students, "I'll tell you the secret of jazz in about
five minutes." The exiting student replies, "Somebody,
The Music Department has grown dramatically since its birth, aided immeasurably
by Father Brooks and the College's administration. It began as a division within
the Visual Arts Department before becoming a separate department in 1979. The
late Suzanna Waldbauer,
an Associate Professor, chaired the Music
Department from its inception until the Fall of 1984, when Korde became Chair.
A departmental major was created in 1982, and the number of majors has increased
markedly since then.
"That growth has been really very impressive
in the last five or six years," says Korde. "I keep thinking that this must be
the peak but it hasn't peaked yet."
There is substantial interest in the department by non-majors, too. Approximately
25% of the student body participates in music course offerings and performing
organizations offered annually
by the department. In 1996-97, 562 students took courses in the department.
Though there is a distribution requirement for an arts course that prompts some
students to choose a music class, Lieberman believes students enroll in music
courses for several reasons.
"Many students really enjoy music and have had some
training; they want to continue their studies," she says. "I think it is a
part of one's life as an educated person and a lot of students realize that.
And we are also a welcoming department. A lot of students taking lessons here
decide to take music courses, join an ensemble and then they are inspired to
take additional courses."
While the Music Department does not offer a degree in Performance, music majors
are encouraged to perform often during their four years here. As Monaghan points
out, "It's absolutely a part of the liberal arts concept here at school that
if you're a musician, you have a chance to experience and learn here, even
if you don't have any intention of going out to be a professional player." He
adds, " If you're a music major this school gives a tremendous foundation to
enable you to go on to graduate school."
Members of the music faculty are convinced that the three-year-old Brooks Scholarship,
a full tuition, four-year music scholarship initiated by the President Emeritus
for whom it is named, has strengthened the quality of music majors entering
the college - and not just by the one student who receives the scholarship. "It
has a much wider ripple effect than you might think," asserts Korde.
The significant renovations to the facility in 1993, which included the renovation
of Fenwick Chapel into Brooks Concert Hall, the addition of a professional
quality recording studio able to capture live performances, and new offices
on the fourth floor have had a positive impact. But even prior to the structural
undertaking, the Music Department had much to be proud of in terms of tangible
objects, including the Taylor-Boody, four-manual, tracker action baroque organ
installed in St. Joseph Memorial Chapel, a two-manual French harpsichord by
William Dowd of Cambridge, and extensive library holdings. The Music Library
boasts a collection of more than 12,000 books and musical scores, 11,000 sound
recordings and 600 video recordings. It is also fully equipped with personal
computers, CD players, tape players, video stations, laser disc players, and
phonographs. Music Librarian Alan Karass offers formal bibliographic
instruction to music classes, and is available on a one-on-one basis to students
who need help locating source material for papers. He is the newsletter editor
of the New England Music Library Association, chair of its Membership Committee,
and serves on several local library advisory committees.
If the number of music majors continues to increase, the department's faculty
and facility will be stretched even more than it is already. Nevertheless,
the faculty members want to retain the special spirit of the department, what
Monaghan refers to as, "a very warm, cooperative environment."
"There is this great deal of individual attention and individual interaction
in the department," Burleson says. "Part of the reason we can offer that is the
department is still small, although it's growing exponentially to the point that
we're challenged. But it's a challenge that we welcome."
Mark Cadigan is a free-lance writer from Boston.