Music Program Celebrates 75th Anniversary with Free Concert on April 12

Doric Alviani

The community is invited to celebrate the music program’s 75th year with a free concert by the Alumni Band, Chorus and Orchestra, which will begin at 4 p.m. on Saturday, April 12 in the Fine Arts Center Concert Hall. The Alumni Ensembles will perform under the batons of Timothy T. Anderson, Thomas Hannum, James Patrick Miller and Tony Thornton. Returning to campus will be Professors E. Wayne Abercrombie, John Jenkins, and Malcolm W. Rowell, with guest Tian Hui Ng.

The April 12 concert is the second of two events marking the 75th anniversary. On March 9, more than 100 alumni came back to perform in jazz and saxophone ensembles and 145 are coming for the Alumni Band, Chorus and Orchestra concert. 

According to department chair Jeff Cox, “We are thrilled to be celebrating the music program’s 75th anniversary with so many talented alumni returning to perform.  We hope that the community will join us in these unique events.”

It has been 75 years since Doric Alviani was hired to create a program with a schedule rich in music classes and musical activities. Friends and colleagues called Alviani the “Gentle Hurricane.” He was tireless and very effective in his work to move from a few teachers, students and classes to a full department that, by 1956, was officially recognized by the university withAlviani as first official head. In the same year, the Music Program awarded its first B.A. in music education. Alviani faced a difficult battle, working to convince University officials to consider music on a par with academic subjects.

The program has grown over the years. Now it offers a B.A., B.M. M.M., Ph.D., Professional Performance Certificate and a Post-Baccalaureate Music Teacher Licensure Program, and has approximately 45 full-time faculty, 250 undergraduate and 79 graduate students. It began in 1869 with one instructor and a nine-piece orchestra formed by freshmen. It was not until 1871 that a student-run choir and two glee clubs were formed, and not until 1935 that the first band director arrived.  Now the program has 17 instrumental ensembles, six vocal ensembles, numerous chamber ensembles, a faculty recital series, visiting artists and scholars, and student solo and studio concerts.

Music faculty members continue to receive major awards including Grammys and honors from ASCAP, MacArthur Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts and the Library of Congress. They also perform at renowned venues, sing and play with national and internationally recognized ensembles such the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Folger Consort, Handel and Haydn Society, Jazz at Kennedy Center, Lark Quartet, New England Jazz Ensemble, Paul Winter Consort, Albany, Berlin, Boston and Springfield orchestras, publish books and articles and compose and record.

Music students have also been recognized for their accomplishments receiving the Sudler Trophy, and awards from Downbeat magazine, Washington International Voice Competition at the Kennedy Center, Riggio Encouragement Award/Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and the International Trumpet Guild.

Many alumni teach at the pre-college level and others are faculty at institutions such as Dartmouth, Indiana, Ithaca, Harvard, James Madison, Tennessee and Tufts. They perform as soloists and in major orchestras, opera companies, choral ensembles and military bands.