The Music Performance Program at Columbia University
MISSION of the MPP
The Music Performance Program of Columbia University, under Acting Director Prof. Giuseppe Gerbino, seeks to enable students to develop as musicians within the academic setting of Columbia, by providing and facilitating opportunities for musical instruction, participation, and performance. Offerings in the MPP are subdivided into private instrumental lessons and a range of sponsored and affiliated performing ensembles. One of the main goals of the MPP is to provide high quality music instruction to students within the stimulating intellectual atmosphere of a fine liberal arts college. Many students involved in the MPP major in subjects far removed from music; others double major in music and some other discipline. The best of our students perform at levels comparable to those of students in the country’s best music conservatories are accepted to top summer music festivals and graduate programs. As Columbia’s MPP is located within the rich musical world of New York City, our students have the opportunity to perform in some of the city’s top venues. Columbia’s MPP students are deeply immersed in both performance and intellectual pursuits, and we feel that this combination creates particularly strong and compelling performers.
HISTORY of the MPP
The Department of Music at Columbia is one of the oldest and most distinguished at any American university. It was founded in 1896 by Edward MacDowell (1860-1908). Although MacDowell remained at Columbia for only eight years, his remarkable vision for the place of music in a liberal arts institution still holds today.
MacDowell saw a dual role for musical education at Columbia, and accordingly he divided the earliest courses into two groups: general musical culture and technical training. The legacy of the former group includes Music Humanities, part of Columbia's Core Curriculum since the 1940's (and still going strong), as well as the many courses in Western and non-Western repertories offered today for students from all disciplines. The technical courses organized by MacDowell have their successors today in the rich undergraduate and graduate curricula in music history, music theory, ethnomusicology, and composition.
Musical performance was also an important part of MacDowell's original conception: he founded the Columbia University Orchestra in the year of his arrival, and it remains the oldest continuously operating orchestra in America. Today, Columbia’s Music Performance Program is thriving, incorporating Western and non-Western music from all eras and cultures.
Along with the CU Orchestra, there are dozens of chamber music ensembles, numerous jazz ensembles, Collegium Musicum, and world music ensembles including a klezmer band, bluegrass band, and Japanese Gagaku ensemble. The MPP sponsors student-run music organizations as well, such as the Bach Society, Columbia Classical Performers, and Columbia New Music for composers. Not only do these groups enrich life on campus, but they also help bring the community together through the many events presented in neighborhood venues such as the jazz club Smoke, Miller Theatre, and in Riverside Park as part of its Overlook Concert Series.
COLLABORATIONS WITH COMPOSERS
The MPP is committed to collaborating with graduate and undergraduate student composers to get their works played in venues on and off campus.
Columbia Composers is a non-profit student-run organization created in the 1950s to perform musical works by Columbia graduate students. Columbia New Music exists for undergraduate student composers and performers to exhibit their talents and for listeners to enjoy the beauties of contemporary/new music. Columbia New Music supports all forms of new musical creativity, from classical composition to electronic music to noise to popular mediums. CNM presents new works by Columbia undergraduate composers.
DEMONSTRATIONS FOR MUSIC HUMANITIES
The core curriculum class "Masterpieces of Western Music" (Music Humanities) figures prominently in the activities of the Music Performance Program. Our students are often asked to play in Music Humanities, and these performances are greatly appreciated by all students in the class. If you are part of the Chamber Music Program, you are expected to perform in Music Humanities once during the school year.