Life after Sunderman: Alumni launch dynamic music careers

Gettysburg College’s Sunderman Conservatory of Music lays an excellent foundation for students to find and follow their creative path. Take Sarah Tuttle ’13, Allison Geatches ’09, and Paul McShee ’11. These Sunderman standouts showcase their musical talents in dynamic music careers—both here in the United States and abroad.

Sarah Tuttle

Sarah Tuttle ’13

Sarah Tuttle ’13 was a music and art history double major at Gettysburg. During her time on campus, she was active in the Gettysburg College Jazz Ensemble and appeared regularly as a soloist in choral performances. She performed as a soprano soloist in the world premiere of Prof. Avner Dorman’s Letters from Gettysburg, commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Civil War Battle. The Conservatory provided Tuttle with the space and support needed to discover who she is outside of academics, while at the same time deepening her interest in music theory and laying the groundwork for her successful career in voice.

Continuing her passion for music, Tuttle pursued her Masters degree from the Bard Graduate Vocal and Arts Program under the leadership of Dawn Upshaw, an Edison Prize and Grammy Award-winning opera singer.

In the summer of 2015, she performed in the world premiere of John Harbison’s Seven Poems of Lorine Niedecker with pianist Ursual Oppens. Later that same summer, Tuttle received the Grace B. Jackson Prize for Excellence from the Tanglewood Music Center in Lenox, Massachusetts.

Currently, Tuttle works in Germany as a fest member for the Oldenburgisches Staatstheater. Tuttle assumes nine performance roles this season, including Hana Glawari (Die Lustige Witwe), Michaela (Carmen), Reine Marguerite (Yvonne, Princesse de Bourgogne), and Freia (Das Rheingold).


Allison Geatches ’09

Geatches2At Gettysburg, Allison Geatches ’09 pursued a double major in music and religion with a German minor. Within the Conservatory, she performed in Concert Choir, College Choir, and Camerata. Geatches found the access to learning and growing student musicians at Sunderman extremely valuable as a developing composer, as well as the mentorship of her faculty. “They taught me a lot of life lessons—how to practice, how to learn, and of course, time management,” she said.

In pursuit of a career composing music for television and film, Geatches attended graduate school at Columbia College Chicago, working with acclaimed music producers Andy Hill and Hummie Mann. During this time, she recorded her thesis score at Capitol Records, and ultimately met her mentor Mark Isham—a world-renowned film composer and music innovator.

Today, Geatches currently lives in Los Angeles and works for Isham. In her position, she is responsible for music prep; managing workflow; translating to notated score; and writing music. Over the past several years, she has worked on several feature films, including Dolphin Tale, 42, The Longest Ride, and The Accountant, as well as ABC hit show Once Upon a Time.


Paul McShee

Paul McShee ’11

Paul McShee ’11 was an English and music double major at Gettysburg College. Within the Sunderman Conservatory, McShee was often encouraged by faculty to try new things and search for new experiences to bring to his music to life.

“Without my time at Gettysburg, I don’t think I would have become a conductor,” said McShee. “The chances students have to study in major fields far removed from music contributed to a lot of the vital non-musical skills necessary to the profession.”

Following graduation, McShee pursued his Masters in conducting at the University of Connecticut. During this time, he was the assistant conductor of the Farmington Valley Symphony.

He began his doctoral work at the University of Minnesota and was the conductor for their opera program. Currently, McShee is finishing his Doctor of Musical Arts degree at the Peabody Institute, where he works closely with world-renowned conductor and violinist Marin Alsop.

“I’ll never forget singing ‘Sharpless’ in Gettysburg College’s performance of Madama Butterfly. It was an intense and extremely fulfilling experience that has had an impact on my interest and work in opera today,” said McShee, whose latest project is at an opera company in Edinburgh, Scotland called the Edinburgh PopUpOpera. The group has performed three shows within the last year and is overjoyed to be performing Carmen at the Edinburgh Festival in the summer of 2018.

“The ability to speak and write effectively—and passionately—about music, and to communicate why it’s important, is crucial (to achieve success) in the music industry,” said McShee. He urges students to approach the job search with an open mind. “As a Gettysburg graduate, you have a variety of skills that make you attractive to employers in areas of the industry you might not think of.”

To learn more about career success at Gettysburg College, check out our alumni outcomes and Sunderman outcomes.