Keyed Up For Music

The Pacific University Music Department is flourishing. Pacific topped 100 students majoring and minoring in music programs this fall, up from just 30 a mere decade ago. 

One notable source of the increase has been the bachelor of music therapy program, opened in 2014 to provide a route to a credentialed profession serving healthcare and education needs through music. This summer, Marylhurst University closed, leaving Pacific as the only music therapy program in Oregon and resulting in the transfer of more than 20 students into Pacific's program. 

But that's just a small part of the growth of the department. Pacific offers majors in general music, music performance and music education— and it is deeply involved in spreading access to music education throughout the community.

The Pacific University String Project— an educational initiative in which college music students provide instrument lessons to K-12 students–was named the best in the nation for 2018. And in May, the Music Department hosted the 70th annual Music in May Festival, one of the longest running high school music festivals in the country. 

Pacific recently unveiled renovations to its nationally renowned performance venue, Taylor-Meade Performing Arts Center, adding practice and classroom space for its rapidly growing programs.

Music students— along with about 150 non-music students— perform in a wide variety of ensembles at Pacific, including the Chamber Singers, Concert Choir, Orchestra, Jazz Band, Symphonic Band and two a capella groups. 

The winter performance season wraps up Dec. 1 with the annual Holiday Concert, featuring several of the ensembles. 

Dr. Burch-Pesses Conducting students in ensemble
Dr. Burch-Pesses conducting students.

This story first appeared in the Winter 2018 issue of PacificmagazineFor more stories, visit

Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018