Welcome to the UNC Department of Music!
In the Department of Music at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, we take pride in our role as a vibrant arts program within the liberal arts university. We teach, create, and impart through performance and study the richness and breadth of musical creation and scholarship. A community of undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, and staff, we are dedicated to fostering an inclusive and welcoming environment. Our program builds on core commitments: to developing critical thinking around music and its role in society, to understanding music’s details and structures, and to shaping through practice, performance, and creation the skills necessary for communicating music’s nuance, power, and variety. With these goals in mind, we offer a wide range of classes, lessons, ensembles, lectures, workshops, and concerts that serve students, the campus, Chapel Hill, the state of North Carolina, and the world widely.
We grant two undergraduate degrees in Music, the B.A. and B.M., and two graduate degrees, the M.A. and Ph.D. in Musicology. Our comprehensive curriculum blends individual instruction with academic study for about 175 undergraduate majors. Those interested in pursuing pre-professional instruction have the opportunity to study with well-known performers in a rigorous performance/academic program. At the same time, our courses and ensembles enroll students from across the entire university, including some 250 minors, with a spectrum of offerings in classical, jazz, bluegrass, musical theater, world music, rock, country, hip-hop, and music technology. We welcome and encourage non-majors to audition and perform in our department ensembles. Our preeminent Ph.D. program provides graduate students with the opportunity to work closely with distinguished and world-renowned scholars in musicology, theory, and ethnomusicology. The magnificent collection of the Music Library is an important university resource for all.
Our department resides in three buildings: Kenan Music Building, Hill Hall, and Person Hall. In our performance venues – the recently renovated James and Susan Moeser Auditorium, Person Recital Hall, and Kenan Rehearsal Hall – as well as in Memorial Hall, Gerrard Hall, and Historic Playmakers, we present more than 200 public concerts each year covering a wide range of musical genres in performances by faculty, guest performers, and students. Please consult our online calendar on this website for a list of upcoming events open to the public.
I heartily invite you to make use of our wide-ranging offerings. Come, join us! I look forward to seeing you at our events.
Chair, Department of Music
UNC Symphony Orchestra and
Marc Callahan, bass-baritone, October 2018
360ᵒ Jazz Initiative Competition Winners Concert,
An Interview with Acclaimed Buyoka Umekawa Ichinosuke
March 22, 2019
by Catherine Zachary
On March 30 and 31, Japanese classical dance master (buyoka), Umekawa Ichinosuke will perform in Moeser Auditorium as part of UNC Opera’s spring production. Ichinosuke will present a 20-minute dance performance, both as a soloist and in collaboration with UNC Music faculty on the first half of each performance night. On Saturday, March 30, he will be joined by UNC Opera Director Marc Callahan, bass-baritone, and pianist Keiko Sekino for Schubert’s “Wasserflut” from Winterreise. On Sunday, March 31, he will be joined by Professor Brent Wissick, cello, and James Rice, piano, for the second movement of Kurt Weill’s Cello Sonata. Then, after a short intermission, UNC Opera will present Kurt Weill’s 30-minute opera, One Who Says Yes, in Noh Theater style.
Witnessing a performance by a buyoka of Ichinosuke’s caliber in the US is rare, at best. In fact, this will be Ichinosuke’s premiere performance in the States. So, who is Umekawa Ichinosuke and what can you expect to see in performance? … Read More
March 21, 2019
by Parth Upadhyaya
When the UNC Department of Music asked Aaron Harcus to organize as part of its William S. Newman Artists Series, he saw an opportunity for reflection.
Harcus, an assistant professor of music theory, was influenced by Black Lives Matter, a movement that started five years ago against police brutality and systematic racism. Already a researcher and teacher of the impact of black music throughout history, Harcus put together the Music and Black Politics concert, which he hopes will allow audience members to “think back historically about different roles music has taken in terms of black politics.”
“As an African American musician, there is some sort of sense that there is this inherent politics (in music) because of the relationship to the racist understanding of the black entertainer and how they tried to get out of that mold,” Harcus said. … Read More
UNC Sackbut Ensemble Collaborates with King’s College Choir
March 21, 2019
The UNC Sackbut Ensemble spent Spring Break at King’s College, London to collaborate with the choir for a performance in the newly renovated King’s College Chapel. The joint concert was led by Professors Michael Kris (UNC Music) and Joseph Fort (KCL) and celebrated the recent renovations. … Read More
Women’s History Month Spotlight: Miriam Makeba
March 20, 2019
Zensi Miriam Makeba, also known as Mama Afrika, was a South African singer, songwriter, actress, and activist. Born in 1932, Makeba started her professional singing career in the 1950s, and after gaining international attention worked extensively with American singer Harry Belafonte. Their album An Evening with Belafonte/Makeba won a Grammy for best folk recording in 1965. Makeba recorded 30 solo albums, 19 compilation albums, and appeared on the albums of numerous other artists throughout the years.
Aside from her extensive artistic career, Makeba was also a passionate activist for both the US civil rights movement and the South African anti-apartheid movement. … Read More
Pierce Freelon To Be Department of Music 2019 Commencement Speaker
March 19, 2019
The Department of Music is excited to announce the 2019 Department Commencement Speaker, Pierce Freelon. Freelon is a born and bred Tar Heel from Durham, NC. A graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill with a BA in African American Studies, Freelon has also been involved with the Department of Music teaching in the Beat Making Lab. He is the youngest person to be appointed by the Governor (2010) to serve on the North Carolina Arts Council board and is the founder of Blackspace an Afrofuturism digital makerspace based in Durham.
The department commencement ceremony will be held in James and Susan Moeser Auditorium on Sunday, May 12 at 2:00 pm.
March 18, 2019
The Department of Music is very pleased to share with you our spring semester’s announcement of accomplishments by our students and alumni of the Graduate Program in Musicology. It’s exciting to see all of the excellent contributions our students are making to the profession and to their respective fields of research. … Read More
Crossing Eras and Borders with Opera
March 15, 2019
by Catherine Zachary
In nearly two weeks to the day, UNC Opera will present their spring production, Kurt Weill’s One Who Says Yes. Weill is known for his modernity and boundary-pushing compositions, but this production will also be rooted in the traditions of Noh Theater. Weill’s opera is based on the Noh play, Taniko by Komparu Zenchiku, and UNC Opera students have been hard at work studying the art and stylings of Noh this semester. The students had the incredible opportunity to work with sensei Shingo Katayama in a 2-day Noh workshop and will get to perform alongside renowned Buyoka performer Umekawa Ichinosuke, who’s an expert in combining traditional Japanese dance with western classical music.
But how did this multicultural production come about?
It goes back to the spring of 2012 when UNC Opera Director Marc Callahan was on sabbatical touring with Le Concert Sprituel in Japan, singing in Purcell’s opera King Arthur. … Read More
Women’s History Month Spotlight: Nadia Boulanger
March 13, 2019
Nadia Boulanger was a force to be reckoned with in the 20th-century musical world. Teacher, composer, conductor, and scholar, Ms. Boulanger did it all. She crossed musical boundaries that others had not, and made a name for herself that is recognizable across the globe to this day.
Born in 1887 to Ernest and Raissa Boulanger, she grew up surrounded by music. Her father Ernest was a voice professor at the Paris Conservatory, and her mother had been a student of his. With such an upbringing, it’s no surprise that Ms. Boulanger would take a serious interest in musical pursuits and go on to study composition at the conservatory with Gabriel Fauré. In 1904, she w0n second prize in the coveted Prix de Rome competition for her composition, “La Sirène”. … Read More
March 6, 2019
For Women’s History Month, we’ll be highlighting a powerhouse female in music history every Wednesday. Today, we’re shining a light on Renaissance Woman, Isabella D’Este (1474-1539). … Read More