Degrees & Programs Music
Develop your musical skills and knowledge with Christian professors who encourage your creativity and relate faith to the art and craft of music.
Engage in the serious study, composition and performance of great music at an advanced level. Discover the vital role music plays in the liberal arts and the Westmont community. Choose from the B.A. degree in music on the general, music performance, and music composition tracks or earn the professional Pre-Teaching Credential (B.M.) degree that leads to a public school teaching credential. You may also choose the Bachelor of Music (B.M.) degree in performance with a concentration in voice, orchestral instruments and piano. Study at a school accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM).
National Association of Schools of Music
11250 Roger Bacon Drive, Suite 21
Reston, VA 20190-5248
(703) 437-0700 Phone
A Safe Return to Music Making
Dear Westmont Music Community,
For at least a time this coming year things will look and feel a little different from the old normal as we strive to bring our musical community back together this fall! The list of protocols below is provided to help make everyone feel welcome and safe, and to keep everyone healthy in the coming weeks. Hopefully we will gather in October in good health and diligently use procedures such as these to keep us all healthy throughout the year!
Dr. Michael Shasberger
Music Department Chair
Frequently Asked Questions for Fall 2020
Lessons are not canceled but will begin with remote instruction until we are able to resume in person. Some private lessons will be done remotely throughout the semester. Students should be in contact with their private teachers to discuss this. Once we repopulate campus, most lessons will occur in person with normal social distancing protocols in effect: 6-feet social distance for most instrumentalists and additional space and ventilation for singers and flutists, Face masks, plexiglass partitions where appropriate, portable air filtration systems, and/or other equipment designed to minimize risk will be used. Some lessons will occur online via Zoom at the discretion of each individual instructor and when possible to answer student requests. Students should not attend a lesson if they are exhibiting any of the identified symptoms of COVID-19.
Yes. When we return to campus choirs will be meeting at Montecito Covenant Church with adjusted ensemble breakout groups, extra spacing, masks, and more to minimize possible risks. Instrumental ensembles such as orchestra, jazz, and smaller chamber groups will meet in designated locations that provide adequate space for the unique needs of distancing experienced by each ensemble. Wind and brass instruments will be fitted with special custom “masks'' and other devices to enhance safety and limit aerosol dispersion. Most rehearsals will be shorter than customary and students will be responsible for a greater percentage of personal preparation than may have been customary in the past. All large ensembles will also function as small interchangeable chamber ensembles for some performance functions. We are calling this approach FIMEs (Flexible Interchangeable Musical Ensembles)!
Until we return to campus, ensembles will meet at their regular times online. Be watchful for notices from your ensemble director.
Yes, colloquium will meet online at 12:10pm zoom links will be provided. When we return to campus, we will hold colloquium on the steps of Deane Chapel. The performer will be at the entrance of Deane Chapel, with the accompanist positioned just inside the building behind the performer. Audience members will sit outside on the Deane Chapel lawn. Bring your own blanket or chair to sit on. Sign up early for those first few Colloquiums! In the case of inclement weather or additional health restrictions Colloquium will move to the live Zoom online format we established in the spring.
The Music Building and its practice rooms will be open once the school year starts in person, but only to those students enrolled in private lessons and to their respective instructors. Unfortunately, no outside community members will be allowed in the building at this time. There will be special health related protocols added to practice room use policies including:
Disinfectant wipes will be provided for each piano. Please use these prior to and after playing the instrument. Be thorough in wiping down the keys but careful not to let moisture flow down between keys.
A 5-minute timer will be provided for each practice room. When you leave please leave the door open and start the timer, turning it over with the same disinfectant wipe you cleaned your piano keys. When approaching a practice room please wait until the timer has run out before entering the room.
Yes, the Music Office will be open once we are back on campus, but things may look a bit different this time around. In order to reduce the heavy volume of traffic that we often see, office staff are requesting that you please email email@example.com or call the office (805) 565-6040, to avoid in-person interactions. If you must come to the office, please approach the office window from the patio and ring the bell. Office staff will then meet you at the window for assistance.
Touring is suspended until we have a 3 month window of preparation without travel restrictions, which probably means either the availability of specific therapeutics, a vaccine or established herd immunity. So, for example if there was a vaccine available to all members of the ensemble in early February, we might be able to schedule a May tour in any given year.
Retreats will be small group affairs on campus until similar health mitigation strategies to the touring policy are established.
Concerts will either be live-streamed or pre-recorded. Some performances will be professionally recorded and some will be produced on campus. This fall we will plan on releasing a performance each Friday at 7:00 P.M. commencing September 4.
COVID-19 Spring 2021 Quarantine Concert Series
Westmont’s student musicians will spring into action this month, performing in seven different virtual concerts, available for free streaming beginning at 7 p.m. at westmont.edu/virtual-concert-
The Westmont Music Department combines the choir and orchestra for an inspiring performance of “Requiem” by Gabriel Faure in its annual Masterworks Concert. The pre-recorded performance will be available for streaming beginning Friday, April 2.
“This long established tradition was definitely challenged this year,” says Michael Shasberger, Adams professor of music and worship, “but with the cooperation of athletics colleagues, fair weather, and the new late sunset time, we were able to safely join forces near the Westmont track to perform in the great outdoors.”
The widely spaced singers perform high above the orchestra on the concrete and grass bleachers, while the orchestra encompasses the full width and length of the track. The conductor and soloists are stationed on the grassy Thorrington Field. “Choosing the acoustical backdrop of the concrete bleachers gave us some cohesion and allowed the musicians to hear each other,” Shasberger says. Read More
The Westmont Music Department held its ninth annual Instrumental Guild Competition with six finalists performing virtually for college scholarships. A virtual concert of the competition became available March 5 with violinist Sophia Chan of Loma Linda receiving up to $10,000 in annual music scholarships funds (up to $40,000 for four years) to study at Westmont. The other finalists received additional music scholarships.
Chan, who performed “Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso in A minor Op. 28 by Camille Saint-Saëns, is a high school senior who began studying violin at age 5 and currently studies with Dr. Sarah Vendsel Dudas. She is co-concertmaster of the Claremont Young Musicians Orchestra (CYMO) and performed at the Walt Disney Concert Hall with violinist Bing Wang as part of the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Sounds About Town series in 2019.
The other guild finalists were Gabriel Kong (violin) of Gilroy; David Shiang (piano) of Oak Park; Jesse Nieman (piano) of Portland, Oregon; Joshua Wang (cello) of Pasadena; and Ethan Dempsey (flute) of Porter, Texas.
The Guild for Music at Westmont funds the Guild Scholarship program. For information about becoming a guild member, please contact the Westmont music office at (805) 565-6040.
Watch an engaging video of “The Elixir of Love,” a two-act opera by Italian composer Gaetano Donizetti, on Friday, February 19, at 7 p.m. at vimeo.com/showcase/westmontmusic. After months of socially distant rehearsals and three days of challenging but safe videotaping, the Westmont Music Department presents its latest opera. Alumna Christina (Farris) Jensen ’09 returned to Santa Barbara to serve as stage director for the production during the pandemic.
“I've never worked with such an outstanding group of professionals and students, completely devoted to creating a moment of artistic beauty in the midst of such challenging times,” she says. “I don’t think any of us has worked under such tenuous conditions, when the future of the project hangs in the balance every day, even every minute.”
Despite the college’s rigorous testing, several students in the production considerately self-quarantined after possible COVID-19 exposures. “We had our ups and downs with students coming in and out of the production,” she says. “Under such strange circumstances, we were able to work together to create a piece of art whose historic roots continue to live in the bodies and souls of Westmont students and to speak relevantly to a new generation of art lovers. That sweet moment of completion is my greatest reward.” Read More
Also available is the Opera Cover Scenes video found here!
The 16th annual Westmont Christmas Festival, “Ris’n with Healing in His Wings,” presents a special online event this year due to the pandemic. The Westmont Music Department, led by Michael Shasberger, Adams professor of music and worship, has creatively recorded the 100 members of the Westmont Orchestra and College Choir, Chamber Singers and Choral Union throughout campus. The virtual concert, which retells the Christmas story by weaving narration with music, will be posted online Friday, Dec. 4, at 5 p.m. at westmont.edu/festival and will continue to be available throughout the month of December.
This year’s theme, “Ris’n with Healing in his Wings,” offers a response to the current pandemic. “Music and readings remind us of God’s presence and grace in all things, even if we don’t understand the trials,” Shasberger says. This year’s festival features lively and festive music including, “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”, “Carol of the Bells” and “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.” Read More
At this time seven years ago we were celebrating Daniel Gee as our “First Senior,” or valedictorian. Now we are welcoming him back to join the Music Department as an assistant professor who will focus primarily on the choir and choral groups. The recipient of a prestigious Lilly Graduate Fellows grant, Daniel is completing his doctorate in music arts at the University of Southern California.
Along with his interest in choral music, Daniel has been studying orchestral conducting, composition, and music theory. During his time at USC, he has been the associate director of the men’s chorus and the women’s choir, and has written several commissions, including new settings of “To God Be the Glory” and “Of the Father’s Love Begotten” for Westmont groups. He is also the assistant conductor of the Long Beach Symphony Orchestra.
Matthew Roy joins the Music Department to teach music history and world music courses, and to direct the Choral Union Ensemble for the 2020-21 academic year. A Westmont graduate with a doctorate in Musicology from UCSB, Matthew has extensive collegiate teaching experience in both history and theory areas. His musical activities include working as Music Director of El Montecito Presbyterian Church, performing in the Folk Orchestra of Santa Barbara (where his arrangement of "Tha Mi Sgìth" was premiered), and previously working as Performing Arts Director at Providence School.
His appointment was prompted by the one-year leave of absence of Grey Brothers, who is engaged in ministry work in the mountains of northern Mexico.
- MU 10 Principles of Music I
- MU 12 Principles of Music II
- Private Lessons
- MU 110 Principles of Music III
- MU 112 Principles of Music IV
- Private Lessons
- MU 15 Conducting
- MU 120 Music History I
- MU 121 Music History II
- Upper Division MU and/or MUA Electives
- Private Lessons
- Junior Recital
- ART 131 Theory and Criticism in the Arts
- Upper Division MU and/or MUA Electives
- Private Lessons
- Senior Recital
Composes sacred music for orchestra and choir
Unearths and performs centuries-old church music
Conductor, composer, and director of the College Choir & Chamber Singers
Pianist and organist who accompanies and conducts choral groups
Internationally acclaimed violinist and Juilliard graduate
Musicologist, Pianist, and Co-Director of the Choral Union
Music department chair and maestro of Westmont’s orchestra
Active Faculty By Instrument
- Daniel Fraats, Brass Coordinator
- Eric Heidner, Trombone, Tuba
- Stephen Hughes, Trombone, Tuba
- John Mason, French Horn
- James Watson, Trumpet
- Dr. Steve Butler, Composition
- Dr. Steve Hodson, Conducting
- Dr. Michael Shasberger, Conducting
- Ensemble Directors
- Dr. Grey Brothers, Chamber Singers, Choral Union
- Eben Drost, Jazz Ensemble
- Dr. Daniel Gee, College Choir
- Karen Janzen, Choral Union
- Dr. Paul Mori, Chamber Orchestra, Wind Chamber
- Matthew Roy, Choral Union
- Dr. Michael Shasberger, Orchestra
- Music History and World Music
- Dr. Steve Butler, World Music
- Matthew Roy, Music History
- Music Theory
- Dr. Steve Butler, Music Theory
- Jonathan Palmquist, Percussion
- Piano and Organ
- Erin Bonski-Evans, Collaborative Pianist
- Jim Connolly, Piano Technician
John Douglas, Jazz Piano
- Neil Di Maggio, Collaborative Pianist
- Dr. Steve Hodson, Piano Coordinator, Piano, Organ
- Dr. Egle Januleviciute, Piano
- Thomas Joyce, Organ
- Dr. Miroslava Kisilevitch, Collaborative Pianist
- Heather Levin, Piano
- Nico Abondolo, Double Bass
Christopher Ahn, Cello
Jim Connolly, Double Bass
- Marcia Dickstein, Harp
- Angela Ezeonyeka, Viola
- Ira Glansbeek, Cello
- Emily Sommermann, Violin
- Dr. Han Soo Kim, Strings Coordinator, Violin
- Anthony Ybarra, Guitar
- Dr. Nichole Dechaine, Voice
- Bryan Lane, Voice
- Kathleen O'Brien, Voice
- Sara Rockabrand, Voice
- Chad Ruyle, Voice
- Catherine Del Russo, Oboe
- Andrea Di Maggio, Flute
- Dr. Joanne Kim, Clarinet
- Andrew Martinez, Saxophone
- Dr. Paul Mori, Wind and Brass Coordinator, Bassoon
- Adelle Rodkey, Oboe
- Laura Walter, Flute
Meet the Staff
Westmont’s principal choral ensemble and touring concert choir, is now under the direction of Dr. Daniel Gee. The choir performs the classic repertoire of the past five centuries, along with spirituals, folk song arrangements, and music of other cultures. The ensemble presents local concerts including, each year, a major work with orchestra. The College Choir also appears at Westmont events, performs in chapel, ministers in local church services, and participates in regional choral festivals. Highlights of the year include the Christmas concert and the spring tour. To learn more about the College Choir, please see this link.
This select ensemble, now under the direction of Dr. Daniel Gee, specializes in a cappella literature, including madrigals and motets of the Renaissance, contemporary sacred and secular music, folk song arrangements, spirituals, and vocal jazz. Community outreach is central to the ensemble. In addition to performing alongside the College Choir, the Chamber Singers performs on its own locally and across Southern California and the Central Coast. Performance highlights include the Fall Choral Festival, the Christmas Concert, the Spring Choral Masterworks Concert, the fall and spring Vocal Chamber Concerts, and the spring tour. Membership in the Chamber Singers is contingent upon membership in the College Choir.
The Westmont Choral Union, now under the direction of Matthew Roy and Karen Janzen, provides a choral music opportunity for all Westmont students who are not members of the Westmont College Choir. It is open to all without audition. Geared primarily toward first-year students, the Choral Union focuses on choral music fundamentals and provides opportunities for large mixed, single-gender, and chamber ensembles. The Choral Union performs a wide variety of repertoire in various configurations and collaborates with the Westmont College Choir. Performance highlights include the Fall Choral Festival, the Christmas Concert, the Spring Choral Masterworks Concert, and the spring Vocal Chamber Concert.
The College Orchestra, conducted by Dr. Michael Shasberger, performs original literature, transcriptions, and arrangements. Included in this are works for full orchestra, string orchestra, and small ensembles. The study and practice includes various style periods and composers from the Renaissance through the Twenty First Century. The orchestra performs two major independent concerts each semester, as well as a combined Christmas concert with the choral ensembles and a major works program in the spring with the College Choir and plays for the annual opera production. Typically, the orchestra is made up of circa 60 students. Faculty specialists coach each section of the orchestra, including Dr. Han Soo Kim (violin), and Dr. Paul Mori (wind, brass and percussion).
Various Wind Chamber Ensembles, directed and coached by Dr. Paul Mori, are organized for brass, woodwind, and percussion players. The various chamber ensembles perform throughout the semester. Typical groups include a woodwind quintet, 5 brass sextet, brass choir, and flute ensemble. Other ensemble forms to meet student interest and abilities.
The Jazz Ensemble performs and studies classic and contemporary literature, including the art of improvisation, and perform both on and off campus.
A wide range of music from contemporary jazz to hymn arrangements mixed with classical pieces.
Offering traditional string quartets, trios and other ensembles. These groups have an active presence on campus and throughout the Santa Barbara community.
Fall Choral Festival
Westmont College would love to offer you the opportunity to participate in our Virtual Fall Westmont Invitational Choral Festival. The focus of the festival is pedagogical and performance oriented, NOT competition. Please click on the learn more link below for more info of this years event in lieu of COVID.
Choral Festival: October 14th - October 30th, 2020
Application Deadline: Friday, October 2nd, 2020
Westmont Music Academies
Westmont Academy for Young Artists (WAYA)
The Westmont Academy For Young Artists presents a marvelous opportunity for students to sharpen their skills, meet musical friends, forge relationships with top-quality artist teachers, and infuse their summer with a dose of inspiration. The setting is beautiful and the music making is alive with spontaneity.
Career Paths for Music Majors
- Performing musician
- Music teacher
- Church music
- Music publishing
- Music management
- Music business
Aaron Wilk ’16 majored in biology, chemistry, and music with an emphasis in piano performance. He is currently an MD/PhD student at Stanford University where he studies how the immune system can protect from and contribute to viral diseases, including Covid-19. He continues to study piano at Stanford, staying active in solo performance and chamber music. “In high school, I was worried about finding ways to balance my two academic passions: science and music. Westmont provided me with the flexibility and resources to pursue both passions well. The interdisciplinary approach of the Westmont liberal arts education, combined with the vibrant community of the Music Department, presents a one-of-a-kind opportunity to holistically develop your musical craft.”
Sarah Pfister ’12: Sarah majored in violin and viola performance and earned a master’s degree in viola performance with an emphasis in violin Suzuki pedagogy at the University of Hartford Hartt School of Music. She taught violin and viola at the Greenwich Suzuki Academy in Connecticut and is now a violinist with the ruse Opera Orchestra in Ruse, Bulgaria. “Growing up I enjoyed taking private music lessons and found fulfillment in teaching. At Westmont I felt called to bring together my love for music and teaching to pursue a career in Suzuki education. My professors encouraged me and provided the tools I needed to pursue my passions. My well-rounded Christian liberal arts education has helped me both professionally and personally.”
Megan Silberstein Billings ’14: She majored in music and is working on a Master of Music in opera performance at Oklahoma City University. She is a professional opera and musical theatre singer and teaches voice and piano at Southern Hills Baptist Church Fine Arts Academy.“My Westmont professors prepared me academically for graduate school and even more for the challenges of the real music world. They equipped me mentally, emotionally and spiritually for the battle facing modern musicians. They demonstrated the true foundation of their confidence—Jesus Christ—and lived out the difficult conviction to make music for God. Westmont pushes students to excel in music for the right reasons: Christ and His kingdom.”
Luke Mizuki ‘15 and Emily Rutherford Mizuki ‘15 met as first-year Music Majors in Westmont’s Music Department, fell in love on choir tour in Russia and Lithuania, and got married two years after graduating from Westmont. They both went on to earn a Master of Arts in Teaching from the Longy School of Music in Los Angeles and currently teach general music, band, and choir at public and private schools in Orange County. “At Westmont, we were encouraged to explore all the facets of music: composing and conducting, collaborating and accompanying, and of course teaching - before Music Education was even available as a major! Having such a well-rounded education in both the liberal arts and music has proven invaluable for us as musicians and educators.”
Donor Giving Levels
These individuals and families forge personal relationships with Westmont musicians. For a donation of $100, you receive a photo card of your adopted musician and an invitation to special receptions throughout the year.
Individuals, families and foundations contributing $1,000 also get to adopt two musicians of their choosing! In addition, they choose a program during the year to sponsor, and their name will appear on the program as the concert sponsor. We couldn't do it without you!
This organization includes individuals, families and foundations that make significant financial commitments of $5,000 or more annually for the future of the music program, supporting music scholarships, the acquisition of major instruments and special projects. We always welcome inquiries; you may call us at (805) 565-6040.
The Music Guild Legacy Society recognizes members of the Guild who have included provisions for the Westmont music program in their estate plans. These members are vital partners who are passionate about Westmont's mission and ministry and wish to sustain future generations of music students who have demonstrated need for scholarship assistance and who would otherwise not be able to attend, build resources for special program initiatives of the music program including supporting Westmont's commitment to global education through our international touring program, and assisting the music program in acquiring artist level instruments to support the music growth of our students. Individuals interested in participating in the Legacy Society may contact the Music Office at 805-565-6040 for more information.
*If you've donated at the Benefactor, Guardian Angel, or Program Sponsor level and have not yet adopted a musician as part of your giving benefits, please call (805) 565-6040 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance. You may also visit our Adopt-A-Musician table at the next concert you attend.
To charge a gift by phone please call (805) 565-7053. Gifts to Westmont are deductible for tax purposes as allowed by law; the charitable amount of your contribution is limited to the amount in excess of the fair market value of the subscription pass you receive as a result of your contribution. For more information or to give without receiving the benefit of a subscription pass, contact Janet Sawlaw at (805) 565-7073.