History of the School of Music
The Catholic University of America has long been committed to educating musicians and scholars. In 1927, the university first began offering music courses. A music department was established in 1950 with the late John Paul as chairman. Under his leadership, the department became the School of Music in 1965. The school was named The Benjamin T. Rome School of Music in the spring of 1984, in honor of alumnus, Trustee Emeritus, and longtime friend and benefactor, the late Benjamin T. Rome. Dean Paul, his successor Dean Thomas Mastroianni, and Dean Elaine Walter, shaped a school where performance and scholarship receive equal attention to benefit undergraduate and graduate students from the U.S. and many foreign countries. The school is fully accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music and is Washington D.C.'s only university school of music.
Today, with some 30 distinct majors offered, music students are admitted to programs leading to the degrees of Bachelor of Music, Master of Arts, Master of Music, Master of Music in Sacred Music, Doctor of Musical Arts, or Doctor of Philosophy. They study with an impressive faculty of artists and scholars and participate in master classes offered by some of the world’s most respected performers including Renata Scotto, Thomas Stewart, André Watts, Misha Dichter, Lorin Hollander, Horacio Gutierrez, and Mstislav Rostropovich. The school houses The Latin American Center for Graduate Studies in Music, and the international Ward Center.
With a present enrollment of 300 music majors, the school schedules numerous concerts, recitals, and special events throughout each academic year. Recent opera and musical theatre productions include Monteverdi's L'incoronazione di Poppea, Puccini's La boheme, and Sondheim's Sweeney Todd and Sunday in the Park with George. The highlight of each year is the annual Spring Concert benefiting the school's endowed scholarship funds. Past benefit concerts include the 1982 world premiere of Gian Carlo Menotti's Muero porque no muero, the 1984 concert conducted by honorary alumnus and friend, Maestro Mstislav Rostropovich, former music director of the National Symphony Orchestra, and the 1991 world premiere of Menotti's Llama de Amore Viva. In 1987, 1993 and 1999, student musicians traveled to Rome for a series of concerts, including performances for Pope John Paul II. Students and alumni have performed for Presidents, Heads of States, and all the American Cardinals.
More than 2,000 music alumni have won many awards and maintain high professional visibility on six continents as performers, music educators, composers, musicians in the Church, conductors, and scholars. Among those who have received national and international recognition are tenor John Aler, who won Grammy awards for recordings of Handel's Semele (best opera) and Bartok's Cantana Profana (best classical album); and soprano Harolyn Blackwell who received critical acclaim for her Metropolitan Opera debut performances in Donizetti's opera La Fille du Regiment opposite Luciano Pavarotti. Graduates perform with the Metropolitan Opera, Vienna Opera, Glyndebourne Festival, New York City Opera, and with every major symphony orchestra in the United States.
The school remains the preeminent Catholic center for music study in this country and is recognized for perpetuating the Church’s historical role in uplifting the human spirit through the study and performance of music. It welcomes applications from women and men of character, intelligence, motivation, and talent, regardless of race, creed, nationality, ethnic background, or physical handicap.