Are you interest in music at Holy Cross? Then look no further, this blog is for you!
My name is Kyle Irvine, and I’m writing alongside another student at the college, Joanna Aramini. I am a sophomore Economics and Music double major with a minor in Italian, and I am involved in the College Choir and Chamber Singers through the Department of Music and music ministry through the Office of the College Chaplains. Joanna is a senior Art History and Sociology double major who has been involved with music all of her time at Holy Cross. She first joined the College Choir, and has since taken many music courses simply out of interest! Our blog is intended to make prospective students more aware of all the amazing music opportunities offered at Holy Cross, and to give some current student perspective. Happy reading! 🙂
Rooted in the liberal arts tradition, music is an integral part of life at Holy Cross for many students, regardless of course of study or musical experience. As a universal form of expression, music transcends the boundaries of culture and time, and Holy Cross provides an opportunity for students to engage with music and the arts, offering a wide array of courses rooted in the Western, jazz, world, and popular traditions. As a department that offers a rigorous academic program to majors, courses that span thousands of years of music history and social issues to non-majors, and a diverse array of ensembles open to all, several hundred students are attracted to the Department of Music each semester!
Music courses explore history, theory, technology, and performance and all foster an interconnected environment of teacher-student interaction and collaboration both inside and outside of the classroom. The music department has 12 faculty members in musicology, composition, and performance, two artists-in-residence, and many private instrumental instructs, all who offer performance and research opportunities to students as well!
Department sponsored ensembles range from the Chamber Orchestra and College Choir to the Balinese Gamelan ensemble and the Holy Cross Laptop Ensemble Federation (H-CLEF). Outside of the department, there are four a cappella groups, a songwriting club, the Chapel Choir through the Office of the College Chaplains, and more! And what’s better than all of these opportunities? The fact that you don’t have to be a music major to participate in them. In fact, the majority of students involved in these ensembles are not music majors and do not have to audition!
Now that you’re aware of the greatness of the Holy Cross Music Department, don’t take our word for it! Check out what other students involved with music have to say about our programs:
“Holy Cross is unique among most Catholic colleges and most small liberal arts colleges of its kind in the fact that is offers a Music Major. I wanted to attend a school with a strong Catholic identity and reputation for academic excellence, but I didn’t want to sacrifice my interest in music. At Holy Cross I haven’t needed to compromise any of my interests.” -Rose Grosskopf ‘20, Music and English double major
“As a music major, Holy Cross has become my home mostly due to the Music Department. While meeting new people in your first year of college is hard, I made friends with my fellow ensemble members right away, and they have remained some of my closest friends to this day. Since the community at Holy Cross is so tight-knit, I am able to interact with members of the choir throughout my day in classes, the dining hall, and even just walking around campus, and always being able to say hi to friends as I walk from class to class is one of my favorite parts about this school. I also have grown musically through my time in musical ensembles at this school, and I have more confidence in my musical abilities after even just a year at this school.” -Meghan O’Keefe ‘21, Music and Psychology double major
“The community of performers that I’ve had the privilege of getting to know are some of the kindest and most dedicated individuals that I have ever met. Not only are they focused, driven to excellence, and extremely talented, everywhere you go there is a spirit of generosity and gratitude. This kind of commitment to the music and to one another helps every musician, actor, and scholar here to excel. Our community and our art draws us together, and it helps us all strive to be the best we can be. I think that’s why we succeed, and create the art that we do: we shine for the sake of our own musical growth, and just as much to lift up the entire ensemble.” -Sadie O’Conor ‘22, undeclared
“The wide variety, whether you are an instrumentalist, vocalist, or just interested in the theory behind it. You can explore so many different styles and mediums.” -Christina Dressel ‘20, Biology and Spanish double major
“Music programs at Holy Cross provide freshmen with an easy way to get involved on campus and in the greater community of Worcester. Each semester brings with it new repertoire and a series of performances for new audiences. Often times, we have the opportunity to collaborate with other groups on campus. For instance, the College Choir performed a beautiful piece with Concert Band last semester, which was a new experience for many of the younger students, especially.” -Theresa Gervais ‘20, Spanish major
“I think the best thing about the music programs offered at Holy Cross is that they are filled with students from so many different backgrounds and academic disciplines. Music students do not just stick to music students here. The diversity among the students in music programs is really wonderful because it allows for so many different opinions and views to be represented in music and throughout campus. Students who participate in music programs are extremely well rounded and absolutely love what they do! I also really love how supportive everyone is of the students in music programs; there are always other students, professors, and faculty who support these students by coming to concerts and other performances. Whether you are involved in music or not on campus, it is something that brings many people together in ways that other disciplines cannot.” -Joanna Aramini ‘19, Art History and Sociology double major
“I think the best thing offered about music programs at Holy Cross is the sheer amount of talent that is present in our school. With programs such as the Brooks Scholarship and Organ Scholarship, incredibly gifted people populate the groups.” -Jacob Fisher ‘21, International Studies and German double major
Music at Holy Cross does not just lie in performance opportunities, but reaches out into the entire student body and further out into our community. Under the direction of Prof. Allegra Martin over the last year and a half, the College Choir and Chamber Singers have had ample opportunity for collaboration with our wider campus community. Recently, the Holy Cross College Choir provided the music for the liturgy of the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, celebrating the 175th anniversary of the College, in addition to providing music for the Mass of the Holy Spirit each year, welcoming first-year students to the Hill. Last year with the Office of Arts Transcending Borders, the Chamber Singers had the opportunity to work with Theatre of War Productions and the Phil Woodmore Singers to perform a piece called Antigone in Ferguson, which draws parallels between the Sophocles tragedy and the murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. This fall, the Chamber Singers performed David Lang’s Pulitzer Prize-winning composition the little match girl passion alongside Maine-based Figures of Speech Theatre with Arts Transcending Borders.
This collaboration does not stop on the Hill. The College Choir combined forces with the Worcester Polytechnic Institute’s Women’s Alden Voices and Men’s Glee Club for a choral collaboration concert, showcasing both ensembles before combining to close the performance. Students were able to meet and work with talented singers from WPI, an invaluable experience. Check out what some of our students had to say about our recent collaboration! (and check out the picture below of the two joint choirs!)
“As college students in Worcester, we are in a unique position in that there are so many other college students in the city that we can interact with at local events. This concert was a great way to bring students from two schools that share a love of music together, and I was excited to meet other Worcester students who have the same passion as I do.” -Meghan O’Keefe ‘21, Music and Psychology double major
“I am most excited to get out and perform in Worcester. I have many great opportunities to perform on campus, so I am excited to share what the College Choir has to offer with a different audience in the Worcester community.” Lauren Carey ‘19, Music major, Education minor
“This experience gave me a chance to get to know other students involved in music in Worcester. Being able to collaborate with WPI was a great opportunity to make connections across schools and learn about what other students enjoy doing here in the city.” -Hannah Baker ‘21, Music and Sociology double major
No matter what students study at Holy Cross, they are able to find comfort in music if they so desire. Distinctive among nationally ranked liberal arts colleges, the Department of Music here at Holy Cross offers ample opportunity for all students to explore their love of music, whether it be inside or outside the classroom. In fact, Holy Cross plans to expand their music programs, with the creation of the new Center for the Arts and Creativity. This facility, to be built in upcoming years, will incorporate brand new concert halls, performances spaces, technology, and collaboration spaces for Holy Cross’s current and future art students– we are very excited for it!
We hope reading this blog provided some insight into the Department of Music and all of its greatness! Thanks for reading and happy music making!