Alumni Stories

Rob Hamilton '96

My experience as a Dartmouth Music major ('96) played a huge role in me becoming the musician I am today.  It was through the grounding in composition and electronic music I received from Dartmouth's Music department that I continued to pursue music after graduation, first independently while working as a software developer, and subsequently full-time after my return to academia. I'm currently completing my PhD in 'Computer-based Music Theory and Acoustics' at Stanford University's Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA) where I compose interactive music and build immersive musical virtual game environments for live performance. Along the way I helped build Smule, Inc., a successful mobile music startup, serving as a musical designer and engineer on some of the most popular music apps on iOS and Android, including 'Ocarina', 'Magic Piano' and 'I Am T-Pain'.

Timothy Polashek MA '96

Dartmouth's masters program in music allowed me to develop my interdisciplinary interests in composition, computer science, and music theory--  The course work was extremely rigorous and interesting, but the most important aspect of the program was its culture of intellectual confidence, creativity and innovation shared among professors and students (who were more like research peers than professors) and the many wonderful guest speakers that came to visit and collaborate with us at Bregman from all over the world. Highlights for me were composing, interacting with pioneers in electronic music on and off campus, performing experiments in music cognition and acoustics, and driving, biking, and hiking all over the white mountains and canoeing and swimming in the Connecticut River. 

Paul Finkelstein ’13

Paul Finkelstein ’13 ~Orchestra Personnel Assistant, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra

While at Dartmouth, I pursued a rigorous course of study in music that exposed me to wonderful opportunities as a student of music theory and history and also as a performer, including traveling to Vienna, Austria, on the Music FSP, as well as conducting Schoenberg's Pierrot lunaire as part of my Honors Thesis. This all helped me greatly after graduation, as potential employers were impressed by the maturity and breadth of experiences that I could point to at a relatively young age, thanks in large part to the Department of Music. In the Fall of 2013, I will begin working as the Orchestra Personnel Assistant for the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra.

Nic Chuaqui ’12

Nic Chuaqui ’12 ~ Composition and Voice Instruction

The faculty of the Dartmouth Music Department give students a great amount of personal attention and provide them with opportunities to pursue their unique interests; as a student, I was able to take on independent studies in theory and composition, gain valuable teaching experience through TAships, organize a festival, and have my compositions performed. Also, the liberal arts nature of Dartmouth's course of study gave me enough time to be able to join the Dartmouth Aires, and, as Musical Director, lead the group to a 2nd-place finish on NBC's The Sing-Off during my senior year. I am currently pursuing composition, in addition to teaching voice at a local middle school, working as an accompanist, and singing professionally in a well- respected choir in my city. I am well prepared for these diverse activities because of the opportunities to grow and learn I had as a music major at Dartmouth.

Elizabeth Shribman ’10

Elizabeth Shribman ’10 ~ International Tour Management, Czech Philharmonic

I was a music major at Dartmouth with a focus in music history, and I also worked as the manager of the Dartmouth Symphony Orchestra for four years. After graduating, I went to Prague, Czech Republic, on a scholarship for a year of post-graduate study in music history. Alongside my coursework I began working for the Czech Philharmonic, where I have now been for three years. I work in international tour management and also work a bit in our Prague season management. Thanks to my experience with music at Dartmouth, I discovered the field of orchestra management, which has become something I am deeply passionate about.

Julia MacAllister ’08

Julia MacAllister ’08 ~ Foundation Relations, Carnegie Hall

As a music major at Dartmouth, I learned both content and skills that are essential for my career as a fine arts administrator. In addition to an excellent foundation in musical practice, courses in advanced theory, composition, music history, and orchestration helped me to develop strong creative, analytic, writing, and research skills that I employ daily as a grant writer at a major presenting organization.

Brent Reidy ’05

Brent Reidy ’05 ~ Consultant, AEA Consulting, Beacon, NY

The music major taught me to be curious and rigorous. I now work in the arts professionally, but even when I did not, the education I received was tremendously useful — not for knowing when Beethoven wrote the 9 th or what a sonata rondo form is, but for knowing how to assault complicated problems in imaginative and effective ways.

Oliver Caplan ’04

Oliver Caplan ’04 ~ Composer

An intimate six-person seminar with Professor Steve Swayne my freshman year was one of those quintessential Dartmouth experiences I will remember for the rest of my life. A half dozen more music classes "just for fun" began to form the backbone of a major, and I saw my calling. In the Dartmouth Music Department, I learned to understand artists as philosophers and to engage with music as something deeply human that touches a part of us where words cannot always reach. Now I am a professional classical music composer living in Boston.

John Brandsema ’02

John Brandsema ’02 ~ Attending Physician, Neuromuscular/ General Neurology & Electromyography, Division of Neurology, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

I believe that my music major prepared me to be a better physician, allowing me to explore being creative, collaborative, and celebrate life with others with discipline that comes from working together to create art. I would encourage anyone who is concerned that they need to "stick to the standard plan" for a career that they see in their future, no matter what the field, to allow themselves to explore during their undergraduate experience. In the end, successful people find their path and it helps to have the tools provided by a well-rounded educational experience.

Robert Mirakian ’01

Robert Mirakian ’01 ~ Assistant Director, Toledo Opera; Music Director, Perrysburg Symphony Orchestra; Orchestra Director, University of Toledo; Youth Orchestra Conductor, Toledo Symphony Orchestra

Dartmouth provided me with opportunities to work closely with artist faculty, and with resources that enabled me to begin seriously exploring a career as a musician. It also equipped me with a much wider set of skills than a conservatory could have, helping me become a better musician and leader.

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