College of Musical Arts celebrates centennial anniversary Saturday afternoon


CMA 100 year celebration

Walking through the halls of the College of Musical Arts Saturday afternoon, it was obvious something was being celebrated.

The building was filled with music as it usually is, but this was different.

A building of musical improvement and study was, for one afternoon, turned into a space of musical celebration as the CMA marked its centennial anniversary.

A common thread throughout the events was the importance of the faculty to the longevity of the college.

“The faculty, in turn, attract good students,” said Robert Thayer, who was dean of the college from 1983 to 1993. “The role of a good student is to challenge the faculty, so that the dynamic of the quality faculty and the talented and ambitious students is what makes for a good institution.”

This ability for professors and instructors at the college to mold potential students is why men’s chorus member Dean Moore believes the CMA is still here.

“Honestly, singing now and singing back when I was a freshman in college, it’s night and day,” Moore said. “That’s what each of the faculty members does for each of their students; they make you go that extra mile to be better.”

Celebration throughout the day was laid back and easy.

The doors to Bryan Recital Hall were open, the sound of a student and faculty jazz combo inviting people to come in and listen for a bit. In one area on the second floor, iPads were displayed where those passing by could make their own music.

Videos of the Falcon Marching Band throughout its history were being shown in Kelly Hall.

These events revealed a contrast between traditional and contemporary musical ideas. While within the past few decades, the college has become known as a hotspot for contemporary innovation, Moss said there’s a balance.

“New music is a very important facet of what the college does and I think does very well,” he said. “There’s many prongs to all of this, and we also are very active and have a wonderful theory … history and composition programs.”

The college’s origins go back to the establishment of the Department of Music in 1914. Ernest Hesser served as the department chair and the sole professor at the time.

The college has come a long was since then, with 56 full-time faculty and 360 undergraduate students currently.

“It’s been a great experience,” Thayer said. “It was a very good decision to have come here.”

On one of a series of plaques on the wall detailing the history of the College of Musical Arts, the school is described as an “oasis” that “encompasses all traditional as well as contemporary studies in music education.”

Moss said while at the local level the term “oasis” is accurate, the college has long been known nationally.

“Since before I came 21 years ago, this musical college was already very established,” Moss said. “In the community, I can see how you might use that word.”

The afternoon culminated in a performance showcasing several different ensembles the college has to offer, but a few hours before a chord was struck among members of the men’s chorus.

The chorus had its “circle-up,” a meeting which happens before every performance and acts as a way to align “spirits and minds” among members of the ensemble. Individuals are allowed to say whatever might be on their minds leading up to a performance.

Moore recounted coming to Music Discovery Day three years ago and falling in love with the college, and reflected the sentiment of many other who attended the celebration.

“I came here looking for some kind of clarity,” he said. “Coming here, hearing the voices, listening to the faculty … it just seemed like a great place.”