M.M. in Opera/Musical Theater Conducting
The Master of Music in Opera/Musical Theater Conducting is one of the four major graduate conducting areas offered at Ithaca College. Graduate conductors in this program study primarily with Brian DeMaris, Director of Opera and Musical Theatre, as well as work with other professors in one or two minor conducting areas (orchestral, choral, wind ensemble). The degree requires a two-year residency. Students may choose to focus in either opera or musical theater or may receive training and get experience in both genres.
Applicants are required to submit a video of a rehearsal and performance as well as other supporting documents as required by the graduate admissions. After an initial screening, a small number of applicants are invited for an on campus audition, usually in February or March, which includes an interview, conducting audition, and piano audition. No more than one student will be admitted each year in each area, and each student will be awarded a conducting assistantship.
Major-field course work includes both applied conducting (score reading, score analysis, and conducting with main-stage productions) and three literature courses in the major and minor conducting areas.
Graduate assistants serve as teaching assistants, conducting and playing for scenes in Opera Workshop and/or Musical Theater Workshop. They also serve Assistant Conductors and Pianists for main-stage musical and opera productions produced with the Department of Theater Arts. Students have the opportunity to conduct multiple performances of main-stage productions in the second year. There are also plenty of opportunities to conduct student-led productions and performances.
There are normally several guest masterclasses each year. Recent guest teachers have included conductors such as Kenneth Kiesler (University of Michigan), Daniel Hege (Syracuse Symphony), Carl Topilow (CCM), Alexander Polishchuk (St. Petersburg Conservatory, Russia), and Gustav Meier (Peabody).
The select nature of the Master of Music in Opera/Musical Theater Conducting program (only one student is accepted each year) sets it apart from other master's conducting programs in the country by ensuring that there is a small number of graduate conductors in residence. This in addition to the opportunity to work in one of the strongest theater programs in the country (Ithaca College Department of Theater Arts) makes the program highly competitive.
Who should apply
Experienced pianists interested in conducting opera or musical theater who have moderate to advanced conducting skills and have developed their performance skills considerably on one or more instruments. Strong sight-singing and aural skills, familiarity with transposition, knowledge of theater and experience in productions is helpful.