Gettysburg Times features Dr. James Day, Sunderman Conservatory
Dr. James Day, the new director of the Sunderman Conservatory at Gettysburg College, oversees the work of a vigorous music conservatory that is also energetically involved in collaborative musical activities in the Adams County community.
Day, a performing classical guitarist who studied at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts and the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, came to the Gettysburg Area this summer to take the reins of the 100-plus student conservatory.
His appointment followed the retirement of former director Kay Hoke.
Day noted numerous existing conservatory-college interactions, and hopes to encourage new connections that will “improve in a reciprocal way the interests of the faculty, students, and the community.”
Day particularly values the quality of the music scene in the Gettysburg community. “I was very impressed with the social and cultural capital for a town this size.” There are “lots of opportunities for interactions in different venues” and these “essential civic organizations create a fertile ground for interaction,” he said.
As examples of college-community interactions, Day noted that college and community members make music together in the Gettysburg Children’s Choir, the Gettysburg Chamber Orchestra, the Gettysburg College Symphony Band, and the Indonesian Instrumental ensemble Gamelan Gita Semara.
College faculty and students are also involved in “If Music Be the Food…,” a concert series benefiting the Gettysburg Community Soup Kitchen, and college faculty perform regularly with community members in local ensembles.
Many music education students at the conservatory also work with K-12 students in the community, for instance in college-sponsored programs that bring international teaching artists to the classroom.
Day also noted the importance of the Gettysburg Majestic Theater as an invaluable campus-community resource where conservatory students rehearse and perform and where community members come together to experience a wide variety of cultural events.
Day invited all members of the Gettysburg community to attend the many concerts that are held weekly in Schmucker Hall, just steps from Washington Street on campus. These concerts are free and open to the public.
As if overseeing the conservatory’s many interactions with the local community did not keep him busy enough, Day also is charged with keeping the conservatory running in its everyday function within the college.
The Sunderman Conservatory was founded in 2007 by a gift of $14 million from 1919 Gettysburg College graduate F. William Sunderman. Sunderman’s goal for the conservatory was to provide an educational experience that would unite the artistic standards of a professional music program with the intellectual rigors and academic breadth of the liberal arts.
There are very few liberal arts colleges that also have a music conservatory on campus, and students and faculty agree that this makes Sunderman a unique and exceptional opportunity.
The Conservatory is a “really special place where students can study music seriously in a conservatory setting in a broader context of the liberal arts,” said college lecturer and saxophonist Amanda Heim.
“There is something special about the liberal art student and the perspectives they bring to music,” added Assistant Professor and Coordinator of Vocal Programs Susan Hochmiller. “[Music] students are enriched by the Liberal Arts experience.” The “student-centric” programs at the conservatory allow them to “pursue their passion,” she said.
First year music education student Amanda Herold from Waymart, Pennsylvania agrees that the conservatory is a special educational opportunity.
“I made the right decision” coming to the conservatory, she said, because it offers a “sense of community that you really need. It’s a tough program and we’re here to pull each other along the way” as we learn “what you want to be like in the classroom.”
The conservatory faculty includes numerous internationally-known musicians, many of whom travel frequently from Gettysburg to perform around the world.
Musical events at the conservatory are listed on the calendar at the conservatory website and at the Destination Gettysburg Calendar.
View article on the Gettysburg Times website.