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Department Overview

Swarthmore's music program is a vibrant community of performers, creators and critical thinkers who share a passion for music both past and present, pop and classical, near and far. Our academic courses invite students to think deeply about music; our ensembles bring talented students together to perform challenging and varied repertoire; our master class and residency programs bring some of our country’s most distinguished musicians to campus for ongoing collaborations with our students; and our program of private instruction enables students to study with some of the finest teachers from Philadelphia to New York City.  Students in our program are often active in many other fields, such as art history, biology, engineering, English, linguistics, and mathematics. The wealth of interests and curiosity they bring to music making fosters a fresh and exciting atmosphere in Lang Music Building.

We welcome all students, whether or not they pursue a major or minor in our discipline, to become part of our music family. Given the buzz of activity happening in Lang, and facilities to rival many larger universities, you'll never want to leave. And with the library open until 1 a.m., and practice rooms open all the time, you really don't have to.

Swarthmore's Gamelan Semara Santi performs with dancers from the Indonesian Cultural Club of Delaware in Scott Amphitheater (April 2014)

Swarthmore's Gamelan Semara Santi performs with dancers from the Indonesian Cultural Club of Delaware in Scott Amphitheater (April 2014)

Photo by Photo by Emily Hauze '04
Swarthmore College Chinese Music Ensemble

The Swarthmore College Chinese Music Ensemble prepares for a performance.

The Swarthmore College Lab Orchestra, with Featured Artists the Jasper String Quartet, made a return appearance at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in December, 2017 (led here by student conductor Shira Samuels-Shragg '20). The Lab Orchestra is a part of the Elizabeth Pollard Fetter Chamber Music Program.

Three students portray witches in "Dido and Aeneas"

Three students (playing the Sorceress and Two Witches) in an April, 2016 production of Purcell's Dido and Aeneas

Photo by Dave Tavani

David Kim, Concertmaster of the Philadelphia Orchestra, performs the Sibelius Violin Concerto with the Swarthmore College Orchestra in November, 2013.

Photo by Photo by Emily Hauze '04
Swarthmore College Gospel Choir

The Swarthmore College Gospel Choir performs as part of the Fetter Chamber Music Program.

Two student actors inside a circle of flowers

Student actors and dancers collaborate with Orchestra 2001 in Stravinsky's Histoire du Soldat (April, 2016).

Photo by Steve Weinik

On December 5, 2014, the Swarthmore College Chorus and Orchestra gave the world premiere of Peace Talks by James Matheson '92, commissioned by the College in honor of its Sesquicentennial.

Photo by Laurence Kesterson

Swarthmore's Gamelan Semara Santi performs with dancers from the Indonesian Cultural Club of Delaware in Scott Amphitheater (April 2014)

Photo / Photo by Emily Hauze '04
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Gamelan Semara Santi, December 3, 2017

Swarthmore College Gamelan Semara Santi at their fall 2017 concert. "Tari Rerejangan Selat Segara," composed 1999 by I Wayan Rai, choreographed by I Gusti Ayu Srinatih.

Music & Dance Summer Funding Opportunity

The Music and Dance Faculty invites applications every January for funding to support summer study in music and dance.  Junior Music and Dance Majors and Minors, and prospective Majors and Minors in the Sophomore class interested in attending a summer program or pursuing private lessons during the summer, submit a proposal to identify the program or outline of their plan of study.  The proposal must include a detailed budget, including transportation, lodging, and any alternate sources of funding that they have received, requested, or intend to request for summer study; it should also indicate what portion they are able to contribute, if any. 

Proposals are due to
Bernadette Dunning or Susan Grossi by
Wednesday February 6, 2019 by 4:00PM.

Students wishing to apply for funding are required to simultaneously apply for a Humanities Division Summer Research Grant (also due February 6).  Details can be found at

Mindful that some summer programs do not send out acceptance notices until later in the spring, we invite them to include alternative plans in your proposal to cover more than one possibility.

Note: Sophomores are eligible for summer funding only if they apply to and are accepted into the major or minor.