The Scripps Experience: The Joint Music Program

The Joint Music Program

For Scripps student musicians who want to play and perform—but are not necessarily interested in pursuing a professional career in music—the Joint Music Program strikes a harmonious balance. Hosted by Scripps, the program is a collaborative enterprise that involves Harvey Mudd, Claremont McKenna, and Pitzer Colleges. In addition to offering music appreciation classes and other introductory courses of study, the program sponsors three ensembles: the Claremont Concert Orchestra, the Claremont Concert Choir, and the Claremont Chamber Choir.

The majority of students involved in the Joint Music Program are not music majors. As David Cubek, director of the Claremont Concert Orchestra, explains, “The Claremont Colleges attract a significant number of students who have been involved with music since childhood. Many of these students are not sure about pursuing a musical career; however, they would like to continue to develop their musical skills and be exposed to music throughout their college lives.”

Cubek emphasizes that the wide breadth of classes offered by the Scripps Music Department, combined with the ensemble opportunities afforded by the Joint Music Program, make participating in music an option for many students, regardless of their experience or skill level. And, while students may choose to pursue majors other than music, they still are able to receive academic credit for their participation in the program.

Professional musicians, community members, faculty, and alumnae complement the Joint Music Program’s orchestral and choral ensembles, providing students the opportunity to learn from and play with practitioners of various ages, skill levels, and backgrounds. Many have found that this openness contributes to a sense of community across the consortium, with students from different colleges forging lasting friendships because of their shared passion for music. And, as Cubek points out, such openness also affords students the opportunity to interact with faculty members from different disciplines and colleges “in a totally different environment, one centered around music.”

Associate Professor of Music Charles Kamm, who conducts both choirs, believes the intercollegiate nature of the program is one of the greatest benefits of studying music at Scripps and participating in the Joint Music Program ensembles, observing, “The formal cooperation between the colleges brings together their combined musical assets.”

Each of the Joint Music Program ensembles stages free public performances on campus throughout the academic year. On April 30 and May 1, they will join together in Scripps’ Garrison Theater to present Carl Orff’s choral-symphonic work, Carmina Burana (1935–36), with over 150 musicians and singers on stage at once. Cubek believes that this production exemplifies the scope and ambition of the program. “Carmina Burana is extremely challenging technically and logistically, but the power of Orff’s musical setting to a collection of profane (and often rowdy!) Medieval poems makes the arduous preparation process enjoyable and exciting,” he says.

Neuroscience major Alyssa Lew ’16 enjoyed participating in the Claremont Concert Choir not only because she has had a lifelong love of singing, but also because it let her focus on something different. “I have been in choirs ever since I was in elementary school,” she says. “Having choir in my schedule has given me balance to my other courses which have been mostly science and psychology classes.”

Ashley Crawford ’16, one of seven music majors in her class year, has been involved in the program since her first semester at Scripps. Crawford credits her growth as a musician to the support she felt from the music faculty as well as interactions with other students. “Scripps music was the highlight of my college experience and allowed me to explore and improve my abilities in performance and musicology… after graduation, the Music Department will certainly be one of my fondest memories of Scripps.”

For more information about the Joint Music Program, click here.