It is a great pleasure to greet you as we inaugurate our first Department of Music Newsletter for alumni! If you were a student in the department from 1992 on, it is quite possible that we know each other. If you graduated before that year, then this is my opportunity to say hello and to hope that our paths will cross in the future.
It always strikes me when I travel and meet alumni of the Music Department or see graduates when they return to visit that many of you have familial feelings about the department. I have heard ex-students use the term “the Stony Brook way” to describe especially profound experiences in the classroom, at performances, in one-on-one instruction, or in chamber music coachings. It has always been a source of great pride to be on faculty at an institution that has garnered such loyalty and affection from its students and ex-students. Many of you found Stony Brook a special place. We mean to do a better job of keeping in touch with you, solidifying the network that many of you have with each other and with us, and of inviting you back to campus for reunions and events. We hope too that ex-students in all musical fields can help those who are coming up behind them. This is the first step in drawing you closer to each other across the divide of time.
There have been many changes of faculty in the last several years. We lost to retirement two pioneers, people critical to the positive development of the department, and if you were at Stony Brook between the early ‘70’s and last year (and that includes almost all of you), you may have interacted with music historian Sarah Fuller and composer and popular music scholar Peter Winkler. The university has been very good to us in ameliorating these profound losses; we’ve made ten hires in the last three years, and it is a mark of how appealing faculty find joining the Department of Music that all ten hires were our first choices! Joining the music history/theory faculty are Catherine Bradley, Erika Honisch, and Stephen Smith; in ethnomusicology, Margarethe Adams and Benjamin Tausig; in composition, Matthew Barnson; and in performance, hornist David Jolley and violinists Jennifer Frautschi and Arnaud Sussman. And we’ve added an African Drum Ensemble to our long list of performance groups, led by new faculty Faith Conant. You can learn more about these new faces in the following pages. We are confident that all of our new recent faculty will bring to their work at Stony Brook the customary energy and high level of scholarly, compositional, and performance inspiration and mentorship that have been hallmarks of our department.
The Fine Arts Building, where we are housed, is still made of unprepossessing cinder blocks and concrete, but we like to think the warmth within the department compensates for its “industrial” discomforts. And by begging and borrowing (but not stealing), that is, through the generosity of some donors, finding inexpensive instruments and rebuilding them, and advocating for funds from the university, we’ve been able to upgrade many of our instruments. We have added 27 pianos in the last three years and expect to replace all of our tired pianos entirely within the next seven years. We’ve embarked on a three-year plan to address all of our percussion needs (this is the second year) and we’ve addressed some other instrument and equipment needs as well. Despite the fact that the university, and the department, is always strapped for resources, we continue to move forward positively and optimistically.
On the following pages, you can read about what we think is exciting news in the department. This includes a surprise gift from a celebrity, information about our career development initiative, the exciting residency of the Calidore String Quartet, interdisciplinary work across a variety of fields by our students and faculty, and some news about faculty and recent graduates. My great hope is that the next issue of the annual newsletter will have information about what you are doing and that you will share with us stories about your time at Stony Brook. We also plan to invite you back to the Music Department for special events over the coming years.
I look forward to keeping in touch with you and to deepening our relationship, whether you were here just last year or forty years ago. On behalf of the Department of Music, I want to tell you how we proud we are of the students who have graced our halls!