Skip to main content

Reuben Gelley Newman ‘21

Portrait of Reuben Gelley Newman '21

Reuben Gelley Newman ‘21

As an accomplished vocalist, Reuben Gelley Newman has maintained his interest and skill through college and is set to attain a degree in English Literature and a minor in Music this spring. He reflects on his time at Swarthmore and his collegiate musical experiences as he prepares for his final performance before he graduates.

Reuben has always loved “music-making and making music with others”, and his interest in musical history has developed a passion for ethnomusicology and the academic and personal exploration of the communal nature of music. This is reflected in his musical experiences in college: Reuben is a member of Critical Mass, a student-led early music vocal ensemble specializing in the music of the Renaissance and European Middle Ages, as well as the Swarthmore Chorus. He has fond memories of performing with Critical Mass at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. The pandemic has impacted these experiences in his final year, and he remarks that it’s been “weird” being the bass section leader this year as it differs so much from in-person performances and rehearsals.

Regardless of this, collaborative musical experiences and the “concentration of people who love music and love singing” will be what he misses most about Swarthmore. Indeed, his senior recital he’s preparing for this spring will consist of a number of sung duets with his friend Hannah Sobel. In addition to group musical activities and the study of ethnomusicology, Reuben has also explored more technical aspects of music: he has a strong interest in European Medieval Renaissance music, and has studied Western music theory. 

After graduation, Reuben plans to work in publishing, but is certain that music will continue to be a part of his life. He intends to join another chorus group in the future, and perhaps go into music publishing. Reuben intends to keep singing, through his final months at Swarthmore and beyond.

What was your favorite music course at Swarthmore?
Medieval and Renaissance Music

What was the last song you listened to?
Instrumentals by Arthur Russell

What is your favorite sound or noise?
A bell ringing.

What is your least favorite sound or noise?
A fork or knife scratching on a plate.