Alumni Thrive in Music Theory

Author: Noelle Elliott

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Two recent alumni are thriving in the elite graduate theory program at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. Their success points to the unusual access Notre Dame’s undergraduates have to the department’s own prestigious theory and composition faculty, consisting of Professors Peter Smith, Johanna Frymoyer and John Liberatore

“Our theory faculty is a treasure, and our intimate undergraduate program sees leaders of the field teaching students everything from the introductory courses to highly specialized electives,” says Daniel Schlosberg, the department’s Director of Undergraduate Studies. 

Anthony Napolitano '19, winner of ND’s Department of Music Senior Award in 2019 will be entering the M.A. program in theory at IU/Jacobs in fall 2021, with tuition remission, fellowship award, and teaching assistantship.

Anthony writes: "My musical education at Notre Dame was incredibly strong, encompassing all aspects of the field. Even though my primary focus was on performance, Notre Dame's additional emphasis on theory, history, and aural skills was invaluable for me to become such a well-rounded musician. This is no doubt why I was able to get into such a good graduate school. On top of that, the faculty is so talented and supportive.” 

Kelvin Wu '19 entered IU/Jacobs as an M.M. student in piano performance in fall 2019 in piano performance but has since added a second, independent masters program—M.A. in theory—to his studies there. He will complete the two masters in spring 2022. He also has a tuition remission, fellowship award, and teaching assistantship.

Kelvin writes: 

"My continued pursuit of graduate studies owe much to not only the well-rounded intellectual spectrum of Notre Dame's liberal arts education but also more specifically to the dedicated tutelage under the music faculty: among them, Prof. Peter Smith offered me a rigorous training in harmony and voice-leading, formal analysis as well as plenty of support for my interest in Brahms.

Peter Smith, who taught both students in a variety of theory course offerings, adds:

"It is a great testament to Anthony's and Kelvin's preparation for graduate studies that the Jacobs School has awarded them both positions as teaching assistants. Anthony and Kelvin built their musical foundation by taking full advantage of the holistic approach to the study of music that the Department's major prioritizes. They excelled in their music theory and music history courses, to be sure, but they also integrated those studies with a deep immersion in musical performance. Their concentration, in fact, was in performance—flute for Anthony and piano for Kelvin—and Anthony even completed the honors track in performance, serving with distinction for four years as principal flutist of the Notre Dame Symphony. Aspects of music theory draw extensively on mathematical concepts, and Anthony will be further served in graduate school by his second major in math, where he also excelled to the point of achieving honors.”

Congratulations to Kelvin and Anthony, as well as to our wonderful theory faculty!