XU mixes music and theology: A new sacred music major

By: Erica Lampert ~Staff Writer~

1.pngIn conjunction with the theology department, the music department has announced a sacred music major that combines the love of music with the love of theology.

Since Cincinnati is one of only 13 U.S. cities to boast a professional ballet, opera, symphony and theater, this new major offers a critical resume builder to aspiring musicians, according to adjunct music director for voice and movement Scot Buzza.

“Unlike other local universities such as Cincinnati Christian University (CCU), who offer unaccredited music degrees, this degree was designed to fill a demand that is directed more towards developing the skills of aspiring musicians,” Buzza said.

Xavier is the only Jesuit school in the nation to offer a sacred music major. Xavier’s theology and music departments proposed the idea in order to connect the two departments.

“This all began when Dr. Tom Merrill and I both sat down with the theology department,” Buzza said. “We both thought about how we have this amazing theology department and this amazing music program, and wondered why we hadn’t found the intersection between the two.”

After brainstorming, the sacred music major was created. The major is a four-year degree that includes a combination of 18 theology credits and 18 new sacred music credits, along with Xavier’s core and the music core curriculum classes.

“One of the realities of the real world is that many musicians end up doing sacred music as part of their profession,” Buzza said. “In the time that I have been at Xavier, at least seven of my former students are now doing church gigs as a fulltime job. This was one of the reasons that got us thinking that there was a need for this type of a major.”

The degree also allows students to have a concentration in either keyboarding or oral conduction.

“There are very few universities that offer extensive training in choral conducting, and keyboarding. Normally that is something done in grad school,” Buzza said. “Now we are one of the only undergraduate universities doing it.”

There is currently only one student enrolled as a sacred music major at Xavier, Buzza said that two other students have shown interest in declaring this major. There are also several students that are looking into transferring to Xavier to obtain this BA degree according to Buzza.

“This degree will offer students the musical basis, the theological basis, and the pastoral basis to do a job that is freakish in the music world. Just a music degree isn’t going to prepare you to do a sacred music job. You need the musical, theological and pastoral parts,” Buzza said. “This is one of those things that you can really only get here at Xavier and not many other places. This makes me really excited about Xavier.”

Students who are interested can contact music@xavier.edu., or visit the music department office for more information.