Gettysburg College’s Sunderman Conservatory offers students a medley of opportunities

Jimmy Nguyen '15, Matt Carlson '13, and Sarah Tuttle '13 share how the Conservatory has harmonized their Gettysburg experience.

Nguyen violin Sunderman

Gettysburg College’s Sunderman Conservatory offers students a medley of opportunities to harmonize their musical studies with other aspects of the liberal arts curriculum.

“I thought I would only be a biology major, but I was drawn in by the amazing professors and many musical activities like orchestra, Sunderman Strings, and opportunities to play with the choir and the jazz band. How could I not want to be involved? I’ve been studying music since I was six,” Jimmy Nguyen ‘15 said (pictured above, center).

As a double major in biology and music, Nguyen is finding ways to connect his majors.

“I’m definitely a better violinist now, and whatever I learn in music I can apply to my studies in science. I’ve been thinking about the effects music has on the brain’s capacity to think creatively and logically,” he said. “I’m doing some background research in neuroscience and considering possible independent research paths for next year. I’m really excited about this because throughout my high school career, science and music have been two isolated entities, but in this way I can try to tie them together and make a connection.”

Matt Carlson ’13 credits the faculty at the Conservatory for pushing him to do things that he never thought possible.

Carlson Sunderman“Prof. Robert Natter invited me to undertake an independent study on choral composition and conducting, and I composed a piece that the choir performed and recorded,” Carlson said. “Prof. Avner Dorman encouraged me to compose seriously—and that became a big part of my Gettysburg experience. One assignment was to write a piece for an ensemble in a style that I’ve never heard of—in two weeks. The first part of what I wrote sounded like a machine, so I called it “A Well-Oiled Machine,” but it eventually goes haywire. My composition won first place in the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association collegiate division competition.”

Carlson also worked with Profs. John “Buzz” Jones, Russell McCutcheon, and Brent Talbot. It’s because of the amazing faculty that he majored in music education.

“I know that I want to teach. Music is one of the best ways to cultivate critical thinking, collaboration and creativity—all essential 21st century skills. I’m considering going to graduate school and may focus on performance, composition, conducting or music education. I feel that Gettysburg has prepared me well for succeeding in any of these disciplines—the result is that I could go anywhere.”

A music major minoring in art history, Sarah Tuttle ‘13 seized the opportunity to study in Vienna for a semester as a junior. Living in a different culture pushed her to “cast aside all my apprehension and go with the flow” she said. Attending world-class concerts and operas and being surrounded by great art was a huge source of inspiration for Tuttle, too.

Kahn Tuttle Sunderman“In Vienna, I wanted to learn as much about the composer Gustav Mahler as possible because I was preparing Mahler songs for an audition. That led me to an internship with an expert on Mahler,” Tuttle said.

Once back at Gettysburg, Tuttle applied for and received a Mellon grant to conduct original research exploring the influence of Buddhism (or the Western interpretation of Buddhism) on Mahler’s late works this past summer with Sunderman Conservatory of Music Prof. Alexander Kahn.

“These experiences taught me that if I have the courage to put myself out there and rise to the challenge, the results can be extremely rewarding,” Tuttle said.

About the Sunderman Conservatory of Music

Gettysburg College’s Sunderman Conservatory of Music offers three distinguished undergraduate music degrees, comprehensive music training, academic intensity and synergy in an active community of artists and scholars, and an extraordinary range of music opportunities open to all students.

The Conservatory is the hub for musical performance on campus, emphasizing active engagement with a broad range of musical experiences and sponsoring a full calendar of events—student and faculty recitals, ensemble performances, prominent visiting musicians, and special activities. Offering a bachelor of music in performance, bachelor of arts in music, and bachelor of science in music education, the curriculum encompasses a wide variety of music genres and traditions and opportunities to perform with more than a dozen vocal and instrumental ensembles.

Founded in 1832, Gettysburg College is a highly selective four-year residential college of liberal arts and sciences with a strong academic tradition that includes Rhodes Scholars, a Nobel laureate and other distinguished scholars among its alumni. The college enrolls 2,600 undergraduate students and is located on a 200-acre campus adjacent to the Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania.

By: Kendra Martin, director of communications & media relations, 717.337.6801

Posted: Mon, 3 Sep 2012




Related Stories


Get all the latest news delivered to your inbox or RSS reader:

  • News - profiles, event coverage, campus updates
  • Athletics - scores and highlights
  • In the Media - faculty, alumni and students featured in the media
  • Photo of the Day - images from campus and the community

Submit a story idea

The Office of Communications and Marketing is looking for stories about Gettysburgians doing great work.

Send your suggestions to