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 constructed, 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 the new configuration of the main auditorium, rechristened Sweeney Concert Hall, into an acoustically ideal venue for performances ranging from solo recitals to orchestral concerts. The department's facilities include 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 courses in music history and literature, ethnomusicology, theory, composition and performance. 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, piano, fortepiano, organ, harpsichord, violin, cello, conducting and chamber music. Further performance instruction is offered through the Five Colleges and through selected adjunct teachers in the area. Members of the department direct ensembles which are open to all students, including the Smith Orchestra, the Glee Club, the Chamber Singers, the College Chorus, the Jazz Ensemble, the Wind Ensemble, and the Gamelan. In addition there are instrumental and vocal ensembles offered by the Five College Early Music Collegium.