The Department of Music is a leader in its field, training distinguished scholars as well as prize-winning composers and performers. Our alumni become conductors of orchestras and choruses, or go on to solo or orchestral performing careers, or to become singers in opera companies around the world. Many of our graduates are now writing music for television and film.
Undergraduates find their calling, whether traditional or avant-garde. From Ethnomusicology to Percussion to Composition, there are ways to forge a program suited to your passions -- be they theoretically- or performance-driven.
Supporting it all is a large complex of teaching studios, classrooms, practice rooms, three performance halls, and an outdoor concert bowl. We host a state-of-the-art Music Laboratory, and the Center for Research in Electronic Art Technology (CREATE). Our Music Library houses a collection of more than 120,000 holdings, including over 30,000 LPs and over 12,000 CDs.
CREATE is situated within the Department of Music and has strong ties to the Media Art and Technology program and the Allosphere research facility.
The Center is an association of faculty and students that promotes the study of music across academic disciplines.
“Contrary to popular belief, I was not born under some auspicious sign, playing Mozart and doodling hyper-realistic portraits since I was two days old,” explains Marc Rusli of his passion for the arts as he majors in physics. “I developed each skill slowly during some period in my life…Doodling was the only option I had to relieve boredom…I sometimes wonder whether I would have any amount of drawing skill if I had been born five years later, whether I would entertain myself with an iPad rather than pencils and paper.”
“I grew up listening to independent music,” writes third-year UCSB English major Angie Garcia. “But until recently, I had never questioned how and when music should be categorized as indie. Then, an intriguing question popped out at me from a UC Santa Barbara music course description: ‘What does it mean for music to be independent?’ The class was called Independent Music in America and I immediately knew I had to sign up for it.”
The course takes a historical look at the underground music from the 1970s to the present in the United States. In seminar style, the class is led by David Novak from the Ethnomusicology Program and specifically explores the punk movement that began with bands such as Minor Threat, Black Flag, and Beat Happening and the genres that expanded out it.
Peruvian-American mezzo-soprano Kelly Newberry was 14 years old when she found her vocal gift. She walked into high school in Simi Valley and signed up for choir since she needed an elective and all her friends were doing it. The teacher gave her a solo and that marked the beginning of her music career.
Newberry remembers when an opera singer from Austria came into her high school class offering voice lessons and sang Habanera from Carmen. Still not very much convinced that it was what she wanted to do, Newberry signed up and during her first lesson the instructor stared at her and told her she had an amazing voice for opera.
“I fell in love with it because of how emotional and raw opera can be and it’s so unabashedly emotional,” she recalls.
For many U.S. college students, hearing mention of Iraq evokes images of soldiers, oil, refugees, and destruction. In 2003, the United States invaded the country and American soldiers remained there for roughly eight years. Those soldiers and the combat that surrounded them dominated U.S. media coverage, leaving little room for the stories of Iraqi civilians and the hardships they endured during and after the occupation.
Now, 15 years after the invasion, several departments at UC Santa Barbara came together for a symposium to flip the script and reframe U.S. perspectives on Iraq. “[The goal is to] re-orient us towards Iraq in order to overturn these reductive and insufficient representations of human beings,” said organizer Mona Damluji, a professor in the Film and Media Studies Department.
The two-day event, called “Iraq Front and Center” was held earlier this month to create a space for interdisciplinary conversations, bringing together guest speakers from the diverse perspectives of novelist, journalist, filmmaker, and doctor.
At a time when Hip Hop and Electronic Dance Music dominate the music industry, it can be hard for those playing classical and acoustic instruments to get the recognition they deserve. That hasn’t stopped UC Santa Barbara student Zac Erstad, a composer who hopes to fulfill his dream in the music industry by becoming a song producer for either films or video games.
Erstad played with the UCSB Percussion Ensemble in February in performance for mallet instruments called “Old and New,” transcriptions and compositions for mallet instruments. He will also take part in the College of Creative Studies’ musical at the end of the quarter when he will perform three songs that he wrote, along with the show’s overture.
Second year UC Santa Barbara music student, Vincent Gao steps forward on stage and waves his arms, facing the crowd as he sings the Chinese song “Confession Balloon” into a microphone along with his partner Max Wong.
“Everyone, can you please take out your phones,” Gao calls into the audience. Suddenly one by one, with arms raised and with loud cheers, the audience illuminates the Lotte Lehmann Concert Hall with a sea of bright cell phone lights, in a waving motion.
This was the first round of the Super Nova 2017 Finale in late fall, hosted by the Chinese Student and Scholar Association for Chinese international students. Excitement filled the venue as 300 Chinese international students filled the seats of the concert hall that evening in to enjoy music far away from home.