Our music program provides a nurturing and creative home for you, whether you want to focus on performance, composition, or research into the theory and history of music.
Members of our faculty are professional performers with a range of expertise. You'll work one-on-one with them to develop your talents at your own tempo and through your own pathways. You'll find quite a range of music here in the Roanoke Valley, both on and off campus, from classical and jazz to folk and bluegrass. The Roanoke Valley has a symphony orchestra and opera company, alternative music halls, old-time country jams and a performing arts center that regularly draws world-class musicians. Where and what you explore is up to you.
Roanoke music students have recently pursued graduate studies at the Aaron Copland School of Music, Carnegie Mellon University, Pomona College and University of Chicago. Music graduates are working as professional performers and teachers, as well as in fields as diverse as mental health counseling and wilderness engagement.
We offer both a major and a minor in music.
They make beautiful music together
Roanoke offers outstanding performance opportunities on campus, in the community and through concert tours.
You’ll find a wide range of musical experiences at Roanoke
The College's jazz, wind and chamber ensembles offer students the chance to rehearse and perform music ranging from a Count Basie big band tune to a classical masterpiece.
Music students have recently interned at Mill Mountain Theatre, Roanoke Symphony Orchestra and Flat Five Press and Recording Co.
We encourage you to pursue your research and creative interests projects. Recent topics include computer-assisted composition, old-time mountain music, music education in early childhood and 21st -century song cycle.
Through Roanoke College's Performing Arts Series, we have a long tradition of hosting outstanding visiting artists on campus. Past performers include such musical luminaries as Christopher Parkening, Marian McPartland, John Cage, Terence Blanchard, Joe Lovano, Philip Glass, Oran Etkin, Teresa Walters, Chanticleer, Solisti di Zagreb (Yugoslavian chamber orchestra), Metropolitan Opera stars Dawn Upshaw and Jerry Hadley, comedian/pianist Mitchell Zeidwig and jazz legend Dizzy Gillespie. More recently we have hosted So Percussion, Anonymous 4 and the Washington Sazophone Quartet.
Our choirs tour locations both domestic and abroad. International destinations have included Italy, France, Ireland, Germany Brazil, England, Scotland, Wales, the Netherlands, Belgium and the Czech Republic.
Student-led a cappella
Extracurricular musical opportunities include Main Street, Looking for an Echo, and the RoaNotes. All three groups perform a variety of events.
Musician-Composer-Researcher Brings Creative Talent, Theory to Classroom
An understanding of how other musicians practice their craft can help enrich the experiences and work of students. Dr. Gordon Marsh, professor of music at Roanoke College, provides a unique classroom experience by being a musician, composer, and a researcher. In his research, he studied the works of Alfred Schnittke, and developed "a theory of understanding how Schnittke approaches musical form." In his compositions, Dr. Marsh writes for many instruments other than his own. When doing so, Dr. Marsh says that, "it's empathy, it's identification, it's knowledge, it's understanding, it's research."
Sample Course Offerings:
- MUSC 150: Fundamentals of Music
- MUSC 240: Music and Culture
- MUSC 262: Music History II: 1700 to 1900
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Professor Joseph Blaha | Music
Summit Records has released a recording of Dr. Joseph Blaha's Sonata for Trombone and Piano. Blaha is associate professor of music and director of bands at Roanoke College. The sonata is included on a CD collection titled American Voices, Vol. II: Sonatas and was recorded by trombonist Mark Hetzler in collaboration with pianist Martha Fischer.
In describing Blaha's four-movement, reflective and introspective Sonata, Hetzler says, "I consider the work to be very deep and outside the box in terms of its formal construct. In some ways it contains Ivesian qualities, not so much in the compositional details, but in the episodic approach and the seemingly larger than life result."
Unlikely path to hip hop producer
Ryan Hunt really doesn't look the part of music producer for rapper Tyga, but that's what he is. He's also now a music major studying composition with Dr. Gordon Marsh and jazz piano with Dr. Joe Blaha. Hunt's path in music started with piano lessons at five, then playing for his church and with his high school choir.
As a teenager, Hunt got into hip hop and music production, which allowed him to combine his knowledge of music with hip hop. He used Twitter to connect with various hip hop artists and submitted beats to several rappers. In 2012, Tyga used one of Hunt's beats for the song 500 Degrees, featuring Lil Wayne, on the Hotel California album. Hunt enjoys many different genres: hip hop, pop, rock music from the 60s to the 80s, jazz, as well as movie soundtrack music. His plan is to pursue writing music, either in the pop or hip hop genre or for TV and movies.