The Department of Music offers both majors and non-majors opportunities to explore performance, composition, history, and theory in depth. Students are encouraged to gain a broad perspective in several or all of these areas. With a student-to-faculty ratio of approximately 11 to one and an average class size of 15, the department is able to support individual students as they work to realize their full musical potential.
Students may join a range of ensembles, from small chamber groups to opera productions, including Choir, Women’s Chorus, Madrigal Singers, Orchestra, Wind Ensemble, Jazz Ensemble and Combos, and Opera Workshop, as well as the student-run Camerata and Mahagonny Ensemble. Performers are encouraged to participate in Monday afternoon student recitals, chamber music, and concerts of works by student composers; the most advanced give junior and senior solo recitals. There are additionally numerous independent a cappella singing groups and student bands on campus.
Concerts and Lectures
The Department of Music regularly presents concerts, master classes, and workshops by visiting artists and ensembles as well as by members of the faculty. All events are free and open to the college community, and most are also open to the public. Guest artists have included Jessye Norman, Richard Stoltzman, Dawn Upshaw, Dizzy Gillespie, the Kronos String Quartet, John Cage, Alla Rakha and Zakir Hussein, Chanticleer, Malcolm Bilson, Tafelmusik, and the American Symphony Chamber Orchestra. Public performances by students are an important part of this concert series. The Vassar College Music Colloquium presents lectures by visiting and faculty scholars. Each winter a festival of new music, the Modfest, features music by contemporary composers.