What is Music at a University? My time with Dr. Jonathan Santore

Foreword: Dr. Santore may sound muffled or less loud, it’s because of the way the microphone was positioned. The loud person is me!

February 8th, over a week ago, I met with Dr. Jonathan Santore about his work at Plymouth State University. I talked to him about his time in higher education and other matters mostly because my class in interdisciplinary studies requires it, but nonetheless it was a great conversation. Previously I had known a little bit about Dr. Santore, such as his route to his doctorate and how he has been around the physics department at UCLA (University of California at Los Angeles. However, after talking with Dr. Santore for the brief time that I did, I feel like I have gotten a small glimpse into why he loves what he does. Here I’ll be writing about my thoughts of the ‘interview’, but I have uploaded the entire ‘interview’ if you wish to listen to it.

A little about Dr. Santore himself, he is a full time professor here at Plymouth State University. He teaches in the Music, Theatre, and Dance department and teaches Music Theory and Composition (Musical Composition, not English). Dr. Santore loves composition and I would say it’s really what his work focuses in, however, Music Theory and Composition complement each other so well. In my discussion with him, we talked about many things including how his work as a professor of Music Theory and composer are connected. To him they are extremely connected, and although you cannot see his face, his face was absolutely ecstatic. You could see the passion in him when he was talking as he was talking. To him, there is still so much wonder he delights in despite having a Ph.D. in music. When he hears something new, curiosity strikes. His passion for composition combined with a renewing curiosity for the endless intricacies of music make his classes extremely fascinating.

After learning more about him, and seeing just how much he loves music and all aspects of it, we starting talking about his work a little bit more closely. We all know he teaches and composes, but who does he work with? Well he collaborates for most, if not all of his work. Not only do composers usually get commissioned to work, they also work closely with whoever they need/want to. For Dr. Santore, within the past couple years revealed a collaborative effort between him and multiple faculty for a new-age type of composition he had written. I unfortunately couldn’t go, but I’d like to think it was totally rad (this piece was also his first efforts in electronic composition). Not only that, recently I went to a concert held in the Silver Center for the Arts, I believe the concert was A Joyful Noise (PSU’s annual Christmas concert). It was there that another piece Dr. Santore had written was performed (I think it was written previously, not commissioned especially for this one concert), and it was a arrangement of a Tradiational Korean Folk Song. I don’t remember the song, but I do definitely know it wasn’t Alilang (AKA Arirang).

As our time started to come near to an end, we started to talk about any interdisciplinary work (outside of music), and much to my surprise he does very little, if none at all. I was expecting him to do a lot of interdisciplinary work/collaboration due to the nature of how composers do work (Someone asks them to write something, the composer then composes it), but it was not as I thought. However, if you consider the collaboration between the different fields of the arts as interdisciplinary, then by all means it is what most of his work is! Overall, the conversation was absolutely amazing, I got to learn more about my adviser in music outside of just knowing him as Mr. Teacher-Man. Although I wouldn’t say I know him personally, knowing more about what truly drives his passions and what he loves about his scholarly work is an amazing experience in of its own.


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