Message from the Dean


“SMTD doesn’t so much dwell on borders between traditions as it explores the connections across traditions”


At this year’s School of Music, Theatre & Dance commencement, I was struck by our extraordinary graduates. Admittedly, this happens every year, but is nonetheless true for being consistent. This year’s graduates represented not only music performance, but theatre and dance as well, with the ceremony’s brilliant moments of classical music, jazz, opera, theatre and musical theatre electrifying a Power Center full of graduates and families, U-M regents, the provost and other distinguished guests. It was abundantly evident that we are graduating students at the highest level of achievement across an exceptionally wide spectrum of disciplines.


While performance naturally takes center stage at our events, it is well known in the academic world that SMTD faculty and students make equally important contributions to scholarship and research. Our programs in musicology, ethnomusicology, music education and music theory, and our academic studies in other areas, are all exceptional. Very much in keeping with the ethos of a world-class public university, we offer the best of both worlds: a conservatory program with outstanding intellectual resources set within a major research institution.


The history of scholarship at the school is rich, and in this issue of Muse, we take a look at one area of study that has a particularly noteworthy lineage at U-M—American music. After 50 years as a leader in this field, the University of Michigan is now linked to the most-referenced work in American music studies, The Grove Dictionary of American Music, second edition, known as AmeriGrove. The first update since 1986 of this revered, multi-volumed encyclopedia has been happening here at U-M, under its editor-in-chief and professor of musicology Charles Garrett.


The massive effort of creating the new AmeriGrove—which has now doubled in size—involved the work of SMTD faculty, alumni, undergrad and graduate students, as well as faculty and students from other programs and disciplines from across the campus. With its inclusive focus and broad reach, it reflects this diverse university at large, and especially the School of Music, Theatre & Dance.


Much like AmeriGrove, SMTD doesn’t so much dwell on borders between traditions as it explores the connections across traditions. Our distinguished composition faculty and talented student composers, for example, are influenced by folk music, jazz and popular and world cultures, along with European art tradition. This reach is reflected across the school, in programs as diverse as musical theatre, jazz, modern dance, interarts performance and performing arts technology, right alongside the traditional components of a conservatory and a scholarly research institution. Providing an expanse of disciplines and the vast world of ideas of a leading research university is a boon for developing artists. The success of our students, whether as performers or scholars, so clearly demonstrated at commencement each year, is evidence that it works.



Christopher Kendall, Dean

Paul Boylan Collegiate Professor of Music

School of Music, Theatre & Dance