The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

64° Stony Brook, NY
The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


Music department ranked among top percent in nation

Seth Goldman is a graduate student studying bassoon in preparation for a master's degree. (Nina Lin)
Seth Goldman is a graduate student studying bassoon in preparation for a master’s degree. (Nina Lin)

Stony Brook University has certainly gained the reputation of being known as a “science school.”

The first MRI image of a living organism was created there in 1974, as was the virtual colonoscopy, and the cause of Lyme Disease was even discovered at Stony Brook University, both in 1982.

The majority of the student body here at SBU even majors in science subjects, such as biology, chemistry and physics. And don’t forget that along with these majors comes the pre-med track.

However, Stony Brook has proved itself in more ways than one than being just a ‘science school.’, a popular blog website that grades and ranks colleges across the nation based on theirs programs and prominence, ranked Stony Brook University 28th out of 30 as being one the “2012 Best America’s Top Music Schools and Colleges Ranking.”

You may be asking yourself, “a music school? Really?”

And the answer is yes. Really.

So, how did Stony Brook University manage to make it on the same list with schools such as Juilliard, (ranked 2nd), Northwestern, (ranked 7th), and Yale, (ranked 11th)?

Stony Brook’s Department of Music holds several programs, all with elaborate curriculums and requirements.

Performance ensembles, upper division writing requirements,  history and theory and musicianship are among some of the diversified criteria that music majors at Stony Brook concentrate on to receive their B.A. in whatever their ‘major’ is, be it clarinet or soprano voice.

Who did Stony Brook manage to beat out on the list?

Kansas University ranked 29th on’s list, while Boston University ranked 30th, both very well-known and distinguished schools with some of the most substantial music schools and programs in the country.

Some of KU’s orchestras, choirs and bands have had meetings at the international level, such as the Montreux and North Sea Jazz Festivals in Europe, whereas BU holds some of the most selective musical institutions, such as the renowned Boston University Tanglewood Institute and Opera Institute.

Evidently, the Department of Music at Stony Brook is becoming more and more well-known as it continues to amaze with its impressive and seasoned faculty and staff as well as their upcoming star students and alumni.

The list of accolades held by alumni holding degrees and doctorates in music is sure to amaze too.

In 2011, Stony Brook University alum Gabriel Shuford was awarded the Samuel Baron Prize, in honor of the late Samuel Baron, an eminent and influential member of the Stony Brook music community. Baron was a popular flutist.

The prize awards $10,000 biennially, to those who embody the same musical talent and compassion that Baron did, in order to further pursue a lasting career in the field.

Shuford has a Doctorate in harpsichord from SBU, and plays the piano as well, and has played in groups such as the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and St. Petersburg

Chamber Philharmonic He currently staffs at Sarah Lawrence College.

Other significant alumni include Katherine Dowling and Denise Fillion, who were both runner-ups in the 2012 David Lang Piano Competition. Alums Alexandria Le, Clara Lyon and

Tyler Wottrich were all accepted into “The Academy” in 2012, which is a two-year fellowship program among the collaboration of Carnegie Hall, The Juilliard School, and the Weill Music Institute with the New York City Department of Education.

Perry Goldstein is the chairperson of the Music Department, and is a professor of musicianship, theory and composition at Stony Brook, and shared his reaction upon hearing of the Department of Music’s ranking on the website.

“The Stony Brook Department of Music is widely considered among a handful of the most prestigious music programs in the country,” Goldstein said. “Many of our graduate students come to Stony Brook for their doctorate degrees after completing bachelor’s and master’s degrees from those institutions.”

According to Goldstein, the Stony Brook Music Department has competed directly with institutions such as the Eastman School of Music, the Juilliard School, Yale University, and the Manhattan School of Music.

As a matter of fact, Goldstein believes that does not do the prominence of Stony Brook’s music programs justice.

Goldstein stated: “The ‘U.S. College Rankings’ focuses heavily on undergraduate education. Our graduate program is four times the size of the undergraduate program so the rankings are not very effective in representing the complete picture. In addition, there is no criterion that measures the productivity or eminence of the faculty, so, for example, the hundreds of recordings made by our remarkable performance faculty, such as the Emerson String Quartet, pianist Gilbert Kalish, flutist Carol Wincenc, cellist Colin Carr (among many others), are completely unconsidered, as is the productivity of our academic faculty. Of course, different surveys come to different conclusions. In a survey done several years ago, the Stony Brook Department of Music graduate program was ranked no. 1 in the country in student satisfaction. We think the criteria consulted by the ‘U.S. College Rankings’ are too narrow to recognize the true excellence of the Department of Music.”

While may not have done the Music Department justice, Stony Brook students certainly are.

Biology and music major David John Davani, was honored for the second time by the National YoungArts Foundation in 2013—last year for clarinet and this year for baritone voice—and recently won the Stony Brook Undergraduate Concerto Competition.

“It is no surprise to me that Stony Brook’s music department is ranked as one of the best in the country. We attract more and more talented people each year to the program, not to mention the stellar faculty we have,” Davani said.

“We have beyond a top-notch musicology department, which is comparable to a program at a school such as, say, Yale,” he said. “I only see our music department growing and becoming even more competitive in the coming years. This is an exciting time!”

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Statesman

Your donation will support the student journalists of Stony Brook University. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Statesman

Comments (0)

All The Statesman Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *