About the Department

Festival performance

There are several levels of involvement that students can have with the Department of Music: Graduate students can earn a Ph.D. in one of the two main areas of our Graduate program – composition or musicology – including opportunities to focus on theory or ethnomusicology. Undergraduate students can major in music, in a program with emphasis on writing music or writing about music. Undergraduates can also earn certificates in the Program in Music Performance, both as Music Majors and as majors of other departments. Those who do not plan to pursue a degree or certificate in music are of course welcome to take courses with world-renowned composers and music historians, take instrumental or voice lessons in the private studios of top professionals, and audition to perform with our many ensembles: six jazz groups, three choruses, two orchestras, several African Music ensembles, a wind ensemble, an opera theater, a musical comedy troupe, a steel band, at least a dozen chamber music ensembles, a laptop orchestra, and almost twenty small a cappella singing groups. Through Trenton Arts at Princeton, students can also volunteer with the Trenton Youth Orchestra or Trenton Youth Singers, through which Trenton young musicians receive free coaching and private instruction from Princeton student musicians.

Community members can attend numerous concerts throughout the academic year. In addition to student performances, world-renowned artists appear on the Princeton University Concerts series; leading performers of contemporary music showcase compositions by faculty and graduate composers through the Princeton Sound KitchenSō Percussion, the Edward T. Cone Artists-in-Residence, perform and engage with the community. The student-run radio station WPRB: 103.3 FM broadcasts many styles of music, often featuring Princeton student performances.

An important feature hard to discern from a list of courses and ensembles is the Music Department’s emphasis on collaboration. This manifests not only within the department (graduate composers composing for the undergraduate orchestra, graduate musicologists making a performance edition for an undergraduate opera production), but in collaboration with other departments as well. Frequent interdisciplinary collaborators with the music department include students and faculty from  Architecture, African American Studies, Computer Science, Irish Studies, School of Engineering and Applied Science and the Council on Science and Technology, and the programs in Theater, Dance, Visual Art, Music Theater, and Creative Writing all housed within the Lewis Center for Arts.