The Music Program will celebrate its 75th anniversary this spring by doing what it does best—making amazing music. Alumni will return to campus for public performances and other celebratory events held over two festive weekends in March and April.
The musicians, conducted by former and current faculty, will pay homage to a program that has become bigger and more accomplished than could have been envisioned when it was established in 1938. From modest beginnings the program has grown to include 17 instrumental ensembles—ranging across early music and orchestra to jazz and chamber music—and six vocal ensembles. The program has a deep pool of internationally recognized faculty members who instruct 275 undergraduate and 71 graduate students.
Over the decades UMass student musicians have thrilled massive audiences at their famous annual Multiband Pops performances and charmed smaller groups in intimate recitals. They have gone on to distinguished teaching and scholarly careers and to perform with military bands, world-class symphonies, and renowned ensembles.
Jeff Cox, chair of the Department of Music and Dance, believes a historic commitment to performance excellence has always set the program apart. He says, "All our students have to audition on an instrument so from the very beginning they’re aware that music is about communicating through sound."
In keeping with their long tradition of sharing their sounds, UMass music alumni will offer two free concerts at the Fine Arts Center Concert Hall during the 75th anniversary celebrations. Open to the public will be a Jazz Showcase on March 9 at 2 p.m. and a concert featuring the Alumni Band, Chorus, and Orchestra on April 12 at 4 p.m.
Bruce Diehl ’95G, director of jazz performance at Amherst College, looks forward to playing the saxophone in the Jazz Showcase. “It will be great to be playing again with the people I studied with,” he says. "Music is what brought us together in the first place and it’s bringing us together again."