Telluriders in Music

07 Mar Telluriders in Music

Music—both its performance and study—has been a topic of great interest to many Telluriders over the years (it is no accident that one of Cornell Branch’s public rooms is known as the “Music Room,” nor that music is a frequent topic of TASS and TASP seminars). Telluriders’ talents are well represented at both the amateur and professional level, and include music scholarship and criticism as well as performance and production.

Here are just a few samples of Tellurider’s musical interests and achievements. Please share more with us—we realize that this is not a terribly representative sample! What are your stories of Telluriders and music?

  • Karl Husa CBG60 (deceased 2016) and Christopher Keene BB64 (deceased 1995). Karl was a classical composer and conductor (winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 1969) and longtime Cornell faculty member. Christopher was a classical conductor, co-founder of the Spoleto Festival USA, long-time conductor at the New York City Opera, and music director of several symphonies. (See the March 1972 Newsletter elsewhere on this site for an interview with Christopher).
  • Phillip Moll SP60. Phillip has lived in Berlin since 1970. He has been active as an accompanist and ensemble pianist, collaborating with such diverse artists as Kathleen Battle, Håkan Hågegard, Jessye Norman, James Galway, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Akiko Suwanai, and Kolya Blacher. He has performed and recorded with numerous Berlin ensembles, including the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, the German Symphony Orchestra, the RIAS Chamber Choir and the Berlin Radio Choir. See this profile in the New York Times from 1997.
  • Tom Smucker SP62. Tom’s renowned work as music critic for the Village Voice starting in the 1970s remain an insightful, iconoclastic, entertaining and fearless foray into rock, pop, and everything else. Access an archive of his reviews and essays at
  • Martin Pearlman SP62 CB63 TA67. Martin is a highly regarded conductor, composer, and scholar and an acclaimed four-time Grammy ­nominated recording artist.  Founder and music director of the Boston Baroque (the first permanent Baroque orchestra in North America), Mr. Pearlman enjoys an active guest conducting career on both the opera and orchestral stages.
  • Nina Gilbert SP72. Nina Gilbert’s choral background ranges from Kenya, East Africa, where she translated Schubert’s Mass in G into Swahili while serving as a Peace Corps volunteer (1978-80); to New York, where she served as associate conductor of the New York Choral Society, working in Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center (1995-96). She has about twenty-five choral arrangements and editions in print, and has served as Associate Editor of the Choral Journal and choral commentator for National Public Radio. To hear a few selections of her arrangements, visit here:
  • Martin Goldray CB74. Martin is a pianist and conductor, with special interests in 17th- through 20th-century music. He has performed extensively and recorded as pianist, soloist, chamber musician, and conductor; performed with most of the major new music ensembles and toured internationally with the Philip Glass Ensemble on keyboards from 1983-96. He is on the faculty at Sarah Lawrence College. His performances are widely available on popular music and streaming services.
  • Philip Kennicott SP83 DS83 is the chief art and architecture critic of the Washington Post, and winner of the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Criticism. You can access his reviews and essays at
  • William Banfield SPF96. Bill Banfield is the director of Africana Studies and a professor in the Liberal Arts Department at Berklee College of Music. A composer, jazz guitarist, and recording artist, Banfield has written works that have been commissioned by several leading orchestras, recorded by prominent labels, and performed by luminaries such as Bobby McFerrin, Delfeayo Marsalis, Regina Carter, Billy Childs, and Nneena Freelon, among others. He is also author of Landscapes in Color: Conversations with Black American Composers and Black Notes: Essays of a Musician Writing in a Post-Album Age, and a National Public Radio host.
  • David Wax DS00; the David Wax Museum. “As a student at Harvard, Wax began traveling south of the border to study and immerse himself in the country’s traditional music and culture. Back in Boston, he met fiddler/singer Suz Slezak, whose love of traditional American and Irish folk music fused with Wax’s Mexo-Americana into a singular, energetic blend that captivated audiences and critics alike. Their 2010 breakout performance at the Newport Folk Festival made them the most talked-about band of the weekend, with NPR hailing them as “pure, irresistible joy.”
  • Nate May MB07.  Nate is “an American composer whose music draws on research and imagination, often treating contemporary issues of place, migration, environment, and identity with textural intricacy, rhythmic drive, and a taste for repurposed sounds.”
  • Joy Wang SP11 TA17 is with the Yale Schola Cantorum, a chamber choir that performs sacred music from the sixteenth century to the present day in concert settings and choral services around the world.
  • JoAnna Marie Ford MB11. “Soprano JoAnna Marie Ford, as the ingénue Cleota, sang with a slender, sweet tone.”- Zachary Woolfe, New York Times.  JoAnna’s accolades stretch from the realm of classical to pop, rounding up applause in musical theater, jazz, hip-hop, and R&B along the way.  JoAnna holds a MM in Vocal Performance from the University of Michigan School of Music Theater and Dance, and a BA in Music from Morgan State University.


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