With the addition of a new doctoral program, BGSU has become one of the only universities in the United States where students can receive a doctorate in contemporary music.
Graduates of the program will be trained as composers or performers conversant in the aesthetic, technical and philosophical aspects of contemporary music (defined loosely as music created after 1945). They will also be prepared to teach in the classroom or the studio at the university level, as well as to fill other community arts leadership positions.
“We feel excited about having the opportunity of forging new territory on the national scene,” said Dr. Marilyn Shrude, Distinguished Artist Professor in music.
Shrude, along with Provost John Folkins; Dr. Richard Kennell, dean of the College of Musical Arts, and Dr. Heinz Bulmahn, dean of the Graduate College, has been working with music faculty for more than two years to win approval from the Ohio Board of Regents for the new doctor of musical arts degree. The regents formally approved the program in May.
“The economic climate in the state for the past 15 years has made consideration of new programs difficult, which makes this approval an even greater recognition for our college,” she said.
“A doctoral degree program in the College of Musical Arts has been a dream for our faculty in the college for over 30 years,” said Kennell. “Our new D.M.A. in Contemporary Music is the right degree for BGSU at the right time.
“It builds on our strengths in contemporary music performance and composition. It recognizes the expertise of our faculty and promises to attract talented new doctoral students to Bowling Green State University and to northwest Ohio. I thank our faculty and the administration of BGSU for making this possible,” he added.
Before approving any new doctoral program, the regents must feel sure there are corresponding employment opportunities for graduates. BGSU’s proposal describes the D.M.A. as a niche program that fills an increasing need for musicians of the 21st century to be able to create new contexts for artistic expression and presentation. As evidence, the committee presented advertisements for musicians with the skills and experience the degree would provide.
The plan for the program is to start small, with four students admitted a year, for a maximum of 16. There are about 100 master’s degree students in the music college, a significant number of whom might be interested in continuing their education at BGSU with the new doctoral degree, Shrude said. Also, “we’ve already had inquiries from outside the University,” she said. “We can be very selective in who we admit.”
The College of Musical Arts’ involvement with contemporary music goes back more than 20 years. Many of its faculty are known for the creation, performance and study of new music and have distinguished reputations in the field.
The college has hosted the New Music and Art Festival since 1980. And in 1987, the college received an Academic Challenge grant from the state that led to the creation, in 1990, of the MidAmerican Center for Contemporary Music. With funding from the center, music students and faculty have been able to participate in conferences, visit research centers and bring distinguished artists and scholars to campus. Both the center and the festival have drawn considerable national attention to BGSU.
The college’s research facility, the Music Technology and Recording Studios, allows students to apply cutting-edge technology to the composition and performance of new works. Interdisciplinary interaction with the School of Art and the Center for New Media and Emerging Technology offers possibilities for new uses of digital media and computer applications in music.
The D.M.A. program has been carefully crafted, and the final product was refined through the input of the Regents Advisory Committee on Graduate Education as part of the extensive peer review process required for all applications for new programs. “It’s a very rigorous process,” Shrude said. “It helps you clarify your goals and strengthen your proposal.” In negotiating the approval process, the BGSU team benefited from Bulmahn’s experience as a member of the regents committee. “Heinz has been through the process many times and was very helpful,” she said of the graduate dean.
Transcending the boundaries of composition or performance, D.M.A. participants will also each have a minor, or cognate, in culture, music cognition or digital media, adding further depth and enrichment to their studies.
In addition to their coursework and research, they will be required to complete an internship in a nonacademic setting. “This will provide another dimension to job possibilities for graduates,” Shrude said.
The provost has approved funding for one new faculty member in 20th-century musicology, and assistantships are planned through the support of the Graduate College.
“There is no other program like this nationally,” Shrude concluded. “I feel very confident in our product.”