The University of Dallas Music Department has been around for decades, and yet, after so long, UD has never quite had the facilities to support the needs of music students and faculty alike. UD has never offered a music major, instead only offering two music concentrations: music and sacred music.
Despite the lack of a proper music major, the university has wanted one for a long time.
“We’ve been wanting to have [a music major] for years, since before I came. […] We have been trying to move towards a music major, but we have a concentration and we have a lot of students who are very musically talented,” said Philip Harold, dean of Constantin College. “To turn that into a major we need facilities for it. […] [The music major] hinges on the fine arts center.”
There are plans to build a fine arts center to house both the Music and Drama departments.
Harold said, “We’re working on a fine arts center now, and they’ve even drawn a mockup of what it would look like. It’s extremely impressive. Very cool looking. Big, big building that would be where Carpenter Hall used to be, which is right by [Cardinal Farrell Hall].”
The mockup design of the building is the first step to developing a plan to execute the vision for a new fine arts center.
“We’ve got a great development team. We have got a fabulous [music] program with what we have already,” said Harold. “We’ve got a great president who’s out there raising money. And this is not like it’s at the bottom of that priority list – it’s kind of at the top of the priority list.”
While the Fine Arts Center project is a high priority for the university, it will take time to make significant progress, particularly since it will have to be built from the ground up.
Harold said, “I would not be surprised to see us break ground within the next five years.”
In the meantime, the students of the Music Department will continue to perform concerts and performances throughout the rest of the semester. The UD Chorale sings at the 7 p.m. Sunday Mass at the Church of the Incarnation once a month and will hold a Winter Concert on Monday, Dec. 4 and caroling on Wednesday, Dec. 6. The Schola sings at Mass on Thursdays at 5 p.m., and on Sundays at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m.
Many wish the Music Department had access to better facilities. Currently, the department resides in Catherine Hall, a residence hall for freshman girls.
“It would be nice if [the students] could [play] in a beautiful recital hall that had wonderful acoustics,” said Kristin Van Cleve, head of the Music Department for the last 13 years. “I want [UD] to have a really acoustically wonderful performance hall that is designed specifically for music. The idea is, I think, for the performing arts facility to house both the drama program and music program, which I think is a really neat combination to have in the same building, and obviously, adequate practice facilities.”
Music, being one of the liberal arts, is important to a liberal arts university. The future of the Music Department, and, by extension, the cultural ethos of music at the university, is dependent on what will become the fine arts center. Until then, the students and faculty will make do with what they have, as they have done for decades.