Music When Smith College opened in 1875 the study of music was conducted in a conservatory located in Pierce Hall. There, professors George W. Steele and J. Wells Champney instructed students three times per week. From 1877 to 1879 a school of music was organized due to high demand from students wishing to study. The demand was so high that the conservatory soon became too small and inadequate for the number of students, and in 1880 the bowling alley in the original gymnasium was converted into music rooms and the first story of the building was given up entirely to the music program. With demand for music instruction ever-increasing, the Trustee Executive Committee secured plans for a new building which was opened during the 1882-1883 college year.
At that time, Smith College was believed by many to be the finest music school in the country. In 1903, Music became a department of the college, while the study of performance for credit continued to be offered within a liberal arts program, which was unusual for colleges at that time. In 1924 the Music Department moved to the newly constructed Sage Hall, and in 1968 the neighboring Werner Josten Library of the Performing Arts was built to house one of the finest undergraduate music libraries in the country. Extensive renovations to Sage Hall in 1989-1990 resulted in the construction of Earle Recital Hall and the reconfiguration of the main auditorium, re-christened Sweeney Concert Hall, into an acoustically ideal hall for performances ranging from solo recitals to small orchestral concerts. Sweeney Concert Hall is the venue for the department’s acclaimed concert series. The department’s facilities include numerous practice rooms with grand pianos, an electro-acoustic music studio, and a digital classroom equipped with state-of-the-art computer workstations. Student participation outside of the classroom was equally important. Department clubs were formed as early as 1880, when the first Glee Club was formed and disbanded the same year and later re-formed in 1888. Since 1880 musical clubs have had a presence in the Smith community: the Noteables, Chamber Singers, the All-Smith Choir, Class Choirs, the Smith College Oratorio Chorus, Chamber Orchestra, String Orchestra Symphony Orchestra, the Smith-Amherst Orchestra, the training Orchestra and the Smiffenpoofs. Concerts and recitals have been held from 1876 to the present.
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