About the Department
When Smith College opened in 1875, the study of music was conducted in a conservatory located in Pierce Hall. In 1903 music became a department of the college, while the study of performance for credit continued to be offered within a liberal arts program, which was unusual for colleges at that time. In 1924 the music department moved to the newly constructed Sage Hall, and in 1968 the neighboring Werner Josten Library of the Performing Arts was built, housing one of the finest undergraduate music libraries in the country. Extensive renovations to Sage Hall in 1989-90 resulted in the construction of Earle Recital Hall and a new configuration of the main auditorium, Sweeney Concert Hall into a highly sought-after performance venue. The department's facilities include well-equipped classrooms, numerous practice rooms with grand pianos, an electro-acoustic music studio, and a digital classroom equipped with state-of-the-art computer workstations.
Today's music department is one of the largest departments in the college, with faculty members who offer a broad array of classroom courses in music history and literature, ethnomusicology, theory, and composition. Particular areas of faculty interest include Renaissance and Baroque studies, 19th-century studies, 20th-century studies, world music, music of Southeast Asia, American popular music, gender studies, criticism, and feminist studies. Smith faculty offer performance courses in voice and a wide variety of instruments, as well as general performance studies. Members of the department direct renowned performance ensembles, including the Smith College Orchestra, Glee Club, Chorus, Chamber Singers, Jazz Ensemble, Wind Ensemble, and Gamelan Ensemble. Further performance instruction is available through the Five Colleges.