A Boston college abolishes music

A Boston college abolishes music


norman lebrecht

January 19, 2017

From the composer Tom Schnauber  of Emmanuel College, Boston:

Dear Friends, and especially Emmanuel College Alums:

Earlier this month, my colleague Scott and I were informed by our VPAA that Emmanuel College’s Academic Administration has decided to eliminate all the music offerings in the course catalog. In order to accomplish this, they will dismantle the Performing Arts Department, terminate the contract of their tenured music instructor (me), then reconstitute some of what they believe to be more desirable theater-related courses under some other department (e.g., English).

If their plan is accomplished, Emmanuel students will no longer be able to minor in music or major in any other field related to music, such as Music-Theater, Music-Cognition, or Music-Therapy. Furthermore, students will no longer be offered courses like: Musics of the World; ABCs of Music Notation; Creating and Production Music-Theater, Song: From the Monks to the Monkees; Music-Theater Through the Ages, Harmony Through Creative Composition, or Read and Sing.

The details are still being worked out, though the administration wants to make this happen by the next academic year. It is also, frankly, questionable whether they will be able to retain what they say they will. We and many other faculty, on the other hand, do not believe that the action is in the best interests of the students or the college.

If it comes to pass, however, I would no longer have the pleasure of working with, mentoring, and sharing my passion for music with Emmanuel students as I have in the past 12 years at this institution. I would miss it very much.


  • Sara Gold says:

    Please change the title to “Emmanuel College of Boston” instead of “Boston College”. There IS a Boston College; it’s a completely different institution, and this article is not about them. Boston College has, and is keeping, its music department. See http://www.bc.edu/schools/cas/music for more information.

    There’s enough confusion in the world without adding to it through sloppiness.

    • John says:

      Now that you’ve corrected Norman, how do you feel about this news?

    • Dan P. says:

      That’s what I thought when I read the headline. Boston College. Not an insignificant institution. (The daughter of Morton Gold??)

    • Anne McGinty says:

      It does say ‘A Boston College’

      • Sara Gold says:

        Yes, now it does. It’s been improved.
        As to whether I think Emmanuel College should eliminate their music department, I don’t know the state of their finances, nor of their enrollment or faculty stats. It’s entirely possible that the college cannot afford a music department, or that its students might get a better education elsewhere. In the absence of full disclosure, I’m inclined to allow the possibility that they’ve made a rational decision.

  • Daniel F. says:

    NL really needs to change the header on this. It amounts to a false statement about “Boston College”, a highly respected institution. If he for some reason does not want to name the college in the header, the terrible distortion created could be eliminated by simply changing it to “College in Boston…”

  • AMetFan says:

    I normally enjoy Mr. Lebrecht’s headlines, but in this case it is definitely misleading. It ought to be corrected out of respect for Boston College.

  • Jan says:

    Like the title or not, this is happening at more and more colleges and universities across the country.

  • Bruce says:

    Imagine if there were another university in Cambridge, UK (for all I know, there might be) and it decided to get rid of its classics department…

  • Magikarp says:

    Yes, as a Bostonian, this headline nearly gave me a heart attack… I know way too many music students at Boston College who would’ve been out of a degree.

  • Patrick says:

    You guys just don’t get it…. The point is to get you to click. The headline is true. Sure, it’s not the college you imagined he meant, but that’s OUR problem. Actually, it’s quite crafty use of ALL CAPS. If the body of the article reads “Boston College”, then we can complain. Otherwise, it’s just our imagination…running away with us. (Thanks, Temptations!) The day we pay for a subscription to Slipped Disc, then we can complain about teaser headlines.

  • Mike Schachter says:

    It does say A Boston College, not THE Boston College or simply Boston College. You often get a better understanding of text if you read it.

    • Daniel F. says:

      No need to be quite so snarky, sir. In the list of headers for each delivery, which is the first thing you see, it merely says “Boston College”. Only when you punch THAT up to read the article does the headline appear accurately. I’m guessing NL was either unaware of there being an institution named Boston College or else forgot and is now simply too stubborn to change it, since changing it would be tantamount to admitting the solecism and hence embarrassing.. In the big scheme of things, not a large matter.

      • CDH says:

        I disagree. Consistent inaccuracy in journalism is a firing offence. (Or actionable, as I believe Mr, Lebrecht knows to his — literal — cost).

        This looked more like an error than like clickbait, and was corrected with the addition of the “A.”

        • norman lebrecht says:

          Literal? What are you talking about? I have never been fired or personally sued. There has, however, been a lot of inaccurate reporting.

    • Anmarie says:

      Please don’t scare the snowflakes.

  • Paul Orgel says:

    Boston is full of colleges, large and small, well-known and obscure, with music programs. It’s hard to get upset about this admittedly unfortunate decision in view of the likely decimation of all arts funding soon to happen in the US.