2011 Fall Newsletter

Message from the Chair

W. Terrence SpillerScholars give titles to particular swaths of time: the Renaissance, the Reformation, the Enlightenment and the Ming Dynasty, and so forth. These designations reflect large, significant periods of time that shaped and reshaped societies. In our own country, we've had the Gilded Age, the Roaring '20s, and — more recently — the '60s, although many are horrified to think that this last topic could be the subject of a music history course in our own department. Each era changed how we thought, how we dressed, how we lived.

If we were to give a name to these last few, post-9/11 years, we might call them "The Age of Distraction." For better and worse, our lives have been changed — some feel disrupted — by the ubiquitous presence of email, the Internet, smartphones, tablets, computers, and cable and satellite television. In short, we're never alone, and there are always "interesting" claims upon our time.

While I love (and depend upon) modern technology, the past still has much to offer us as well. I feel that life in the Music Department strikes a healthy balance between a focus on technological immediacy and the study of the timeless. We think, discuss, outline, write, absorb, ponder, practice, compose, rehearse, perform, listen and wonder. We use chalk and old instruments, even as we employ iTunes and computers. In short, we combine the past and present thoughtfully. Ours is a special and welcoming corner of our polytechnic world, and I wouldn't change a thing.

Except, perhaps, email…

W. Terrence Spiller, Chair