Music

Saint Michael's Music

The music program at St. Mike's offers you many opportunities to study closely with faculty and other professionals and to gain performance experience. Our well-known and well-traveled wind, jazz, vocal and instrumental ensembles have been an important asset for the college throughout the history of the fine arts program. These performing groups allow you to apply what you're learning in class about music theory and history as you develop your musical talents and repertoire. Greater Burlington also has a rich music scene, from clubs and coffee-houses to big-name acts, musicals and festivals.

Courses required for the music major cover theory, history and performance. Most meet in our beautiful McCarthy Arts Center, a stimulating creative space anchored by a professional-quality theater that is home to one of New England's leading and longest-running summer-stock companies, the Saint Michael's Playhouse. During the academic year, student shows in this same theater sometimes are musicals that you can be part of as a singer, accompanist or even composer. McCarthy also has a busy recital hall, practice rooms and art galleries along with class rooms.

The Department of Fine Arts sponsors the Chorale, Concert Band, Jazz Orchestra, Chamber Music and the Akoma Drummers. All of these groups perform on campus and tour extensively.

Your St. Mike's music courses will focus on understanding music as a liberal art. Music is a central pursuit of human culture related to other fields in the humanities that study the variety and meaning of human artistic expression. Through the study of music you can gain insight into many other aspects of culture.

By senior year you'll have knowledge and experience of the theory and analysis of music, familiarity with the styles and repertory of European music from the Middle Ages through the present and characteristics of American and non-Western music. You'll also have had performance experience in music of various styles and acquired educated tastes and opinions about a wide range of musical repertory.

While a student here you'll have the opportunity for private study for credit with a local teacher on a variety of musical instruments or in voice. The additional fee for private study under this program is partially subsidized for music majors and minors (instrument or voice) and for theater majors (voice lessons only).

Your first-year music theory courses cover basic tonal materials: scales, intervals, chords; melody and counterpoint, moving into harmony, introduction to form and analysis. Musicianship lab includes ear-training, sight-singing and keyboard skills. Later you'll survey different genres of music and writing about that music; you'll read and write descriptions, reviews, reports, and essays about music of a variety of styles including live performances.

The senior seminar gives you the opportunity to undertake a culminating project in the study and performance of music. Topics and projects vary according to interests and include a combination of original research, musical analysis, a final paper, an oral presentation, and a musical performance. For the major you'll take five electives in music theory or music history and repertory along with ensemble work and private lessons most semesters.

William Ellis, PhD

Assistant Professor of Fine Arts: Music
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Ph. D., Musicology-Southern Regional Studies (with Art History minor), University of Memphis, Memphis, Tennessee; Dissertation, "I Belong to the Band: The Music of Reverend Gary Davis."
M. M., Classical Guitar Performance, University of Cincinnati-College Conservatory of Music, Cincinnati, Ohio.
B. M., Classical Guitar Performance, Kentucky Wesleyan College, Owensboro, Kentucky.

Areas of Expertise:

I specialize in traditional and popular music of the American South including blues, gospel, soul and early rock & roll. I also play guitar professionally and write and lecture on self-taught and folk art, notably African-American vernacular art of the Deep South.

Courses I Teach:

  • History of Rock
  • History of Jazz
  • Music Theory I and II
  • Reading and Writing about Music

I have also taught various undergraduate and graduate level courses at other institutions including: World Music, Western Art Music, American Popular Music, Filed Methods in Ethnomusicology, and guitar instruction.

Christopher Gribnau, MM

Faculty, Fine Arts: Music
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M.M. Ithaca College
B.S. University of Vermont

Areas of Expertise:

I currently also teach Middle School Music at Georgia Elementary and Middle School in Georgia, VT. I've worked with students from five to seventy seven and specialize in concert band and jazz performance. As a trumpet player, I play locally in many groups ranging from Grupo Sabor, the Swingin' Vermont Big Band and Four Seasons Five Brass Quintet.

Courses I Teach:

  • Wind Ensemble

Nathaniel Lew, PhD

Associate Professor of Fine Arts: Music
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M.A., Ph.D. University of California, Berkeley
B.A., M.A. Cambridge University
B.A. Yale University

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Areas of Expertise:

Twentieth-century British music, particularly opera, and its relationship to institutions and the broader culture; the composers Ralph Vaughan Williams, Benjamin Britten and Alan Bush; choral conducting

Courses I Teach:

  • Chorale and Chamber Singers
  • Instrumentation and Orchestration
  • Medieval and Renaissance Music
  • Music Theory III & IV
  • Musicianship Lab for Music Theory I & II
  • Opera
  • Senior Seminar

My Saint Michael's:

I teach music history, music theory and musicianship, and I direct the College Chorale and Chamber Singers.  I enjoy the creative freedom to teach a wide variety of subjects in a department where faculty and students are open to his experimenting with new topics, materials and methods. I like having the freedom to organize my courses as I choose. I also appreciate being able to work closely with my students, and I love it when students respectfully disagree with one another in really productive ways.

In all of my courses on musical repertory, such as Opera and Medieval and Renaissance Music, I take the entire class to live performances, usually including one in Montreal. Although the music department is small, we work hard to facilitate all our students' performance projects, some of which are ambitious and impressive.

Brian McCarthy, MM

Faculty, Fine Arts, Music
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M.M. Jazz Composition/Arranging, William Paterson University
B.M. Jazz Studies Performance, William Paterson University

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Areas of Expertise:

Saxophone, Jazz, Composition and Arranging

Courses I Teach:

  • Jazz Orchestra
  • Private Lessons
  • Piano Lab

Josselyne Price, MA

Faculty, Fine Arts: Music
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M.A. Ethnomusicology, Tufts University
B.A. Musicology, San Jose State University

Areas of Expertise:

My focus is on the music and dance of Ghana and other areas of West Africa, Haiti, Cuba, and also contemporary, "globalized" spiritual/ecstatic drum and dance traditions within the United States. In addition to Ghanaian music, I perform as a vocalist and percussionist with various world fusion groups in New England. I act as a coordinator and facilitator at many folk and music-based festivals throughout the U.S. during the summer months.

Courses I Teach:

  • Akoma World Music Ensemble (Ghanaian Drum/Dance)
  • Beginning Ghanian drum ensemble
  • Ghanian Arts and Culture
  • Global Electronica
  • Music of Ghana
  • Music of India
  • Music of Latin America
  • Music and Trance
  • World Music

Susan Summerfield, DMA

Professor of Fine Arts: Music
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D.M.A. Stanford University
M.A. Mills College;
A.B. Douglass College and Rutgers University;

I specialize in early music performance practice. I teach courses in music history of the Baroque and Twentieth Century and music theory. I also offer private lessons in piano, organ and harpsichord; and I coach the chamber ensemble.  I include theory, history and performance in the courses that I teach with the goal of teaching students to be informed writers, listeners and musicians.

I present solo and ensemble concerts, performing on the organ, harpsichord and fortepiano. I serve as the Saint Michael's College Organist and often participate in community musical events.

Vocal Ensembles

Saint Michael's has a large vocal ensemble sponsored by the Department of Fine Arts: the Chorale. This group presents several public concerts throughout the year, including a Christmas Lessons and Carols Concert in December that draws a large audience from throughout the Burlington area and a concert for Family Weekend and a Spring Concert at the end of the school year. They take an annual tour, which in years past has taken them to New York City, Montreal, Ottawa and Washington D.C., and they sing regularly at college functions and local churches. Their repertory spans the centuries from the Middle Ages to the contemporary period, including concert works by living composers, from different nations and cultures, and in a variety of languages. Students in any class year and in any major may participate in Chorale; there are also opportunities for soloists to show their talents at the concerts. 

Another option for students interested in singing is the Liturgical Choir, a part of Campus Ministry. This group is primarily composed of undergraduate students, but also includes adult members from the greater worshipping community. It facilitates sung prayer at all Sunday liturgies and all major feasts of the liturgical year, offering an original and eclectic musical style utilizing African, Latin American and Irish flavors to compliment traditional hymn singing.  The group’s leader Jerome Monachino is a skilled guitarist across jazz, rock and popular genres and frequently offers lessons or jams with students in his office.

Finally, there are several student-run a cappella vocal ensembles on campus, including The Sleepless Knights (a co-ed group), Mike Check (an all-men group), and Aca Bellas (an all-women group). For more information about the Chorale and Chamber Singers, contact Nathaniel Lew at 802.654.2284 or e-mail: nlew@smcvt.edu.   For more information about the Liturgical Choir, please contact Jerome Monachino at 802.654.2254 or e-mail: jmonachino@smcvt.edu.

Instrumental Ensembles

The Concert Band performs concert and symphonic band music that embraces a wide spectrum of styles. The group performs on campus several times each year and each spring tours though out the Northeast. The Jazz Orchestra performs music of the big band and swing eras. The group also participates in the spring tour. The Chamber Music Ensemble is currently a group of string players who perform literature of the 18th and 19th century. Their repertoire is expanding as they grow, though, and the group looks forward to working on a broad spectrum of styles in the near future.

Music All Around You

Opportunities to experience music as part of the lively greater Burlington arts scene are plentiful. Take advantage the St. Mike's Cultural Pass deal to see live professional big-name traveling shows and performers of every variety at downtown Burlington's Flynn Performing Arts Center. Musicians frequently perform recitals and concerts on the Saint Michael's campus too, whether in the McCarthy Arts Center, the Chapel or at the beautiful Elley-Long Music Center on our North Campus, home of the  Vermont Youth Orchestra and a site for other musical events. Coffee houses on campus and around Burlington are another venue to hear music (or to be heard), and headline acts appear periodically at the nearby Fairgrounds in Essex Junction. Burlington hosts a major summer jazz festival as well as other music festivals on the city's waterfront, and the city has a notable music club scene in general (Phish got its start on this circuit!). Many of our Fine Arts students also have had starring roles at the Flynn for lavish Lyric Theatre Company musical productions of the traditional American theater repertoire. It’s the largest community theater company in New England.

Music majors at Saint Michael's have gone on to become music teachers, composers, music publishers, liturgical music suppliers and owner of a theatrical supply company.  Graduates have pursued graduate studies at major schools including New York University, the University of Connecticut, the University of Massachusetts and the Catholic University of America.

Vocal and Instrumental Instructors

Voice

  • Piero Bonamico, theater
  • Amber DeLaurentis, jazz and theater
  • Adam Hall, classical
  • Nikki Juvan, theater and classical
  • Allison Mills, classical and theater
  • Victoria Drew Wacek, classical

Keyboard

Strings

  • Rick Belford, guitar
  • William Ellis, guitar
  • Jerome Monachino, guitar
  • John Rivers, bass and bass guitar
  • Fran Pepperman Taylor, violin

Winds and Brass

  • Nadine Carpenter, oboe
  • Timothy Cummings, bagpipes
  • Steve Klimowski, clarinet
  • Laurel Ann Maurer, flute 
  • Brian McCarthy, saxophone
  • Alan Parshley, French horn
  • Kate Stein, bassoon 
  • Jason Whitcomb, trumpet

Percussion

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