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From the Chair

Matthew Westgate
                  Matthew Westgate

Greetings, UMass community! I am thrilled to write my first letter to you as the chair of the Department of Music & Dance.

As I humbly step into this new role, I must, of course, begin by acknowledging the leaders before me who built UMass Music & Dance’s stellar reputation and high standards. I aspire to continue their impressive trajectory and make our alumni proud. I want to especially recognize our outgoing department chair, Salvatore Macchia, who has been the leader we all needed for the past three years. Salvatore helped the department navigate a global pandemic, numerous budget cuts, Zoom meetings, classes and rehearsals in tents, and unprecedented societal and political unrest. He led with heart, passion, vulnerability, and thoughtful determination, and I know I will continue to look to him for answers and mentorship. We are all grateful he is staying on as faculty to return to teaching and composing full-time.

As we emerge from the pandemic, it’s clear that our faculty, staff, and students are ready to embrace change, and I believe our department is about to enter an exciting new era. One of my top priorities will be to lead an effort to redesign and update our curricula to meet the needs of our 21st-century students, and I am eager to put that process into motion. I’ll also encourage more faculty/student collaborations, make efforts to host more combined music and dance events, foster even more partnerships between the department and the community, and create more pathways to connect our students with the professional world. I am excited to further build and expand our definition of community in the years to come.

As you read through our newest 2022 edition of Fanfare, take note that our incredible music and dance students, faculty, and staff not only rose to the challenges of the past year - they thrived! I am so proud to be a member of this extraordinary community, and I look forward to serving as department chair in the years to come. Thank you for your support and trust.

With gratitude,
Matthew Westgate, Chair

September, 2022