Award-winning conductor to head ETSU’s music department

JOHNSON CITY — Home to award-winning faculty and student ensembles, East Tennessee State University’s music department presents more than 200 events each year.

Many are free. Others cost only enough to cover the associated expenses.

For Dr. Alan Stevens, appointed president earlier this year, it’s all part of building a community that “both accepts students for who they are and challenges them to be better musicians and scholars.” .

“The Department of Music is a thriving group of students and faculty,” he said. “I want to make sure the Department of Music helps students succeed both academically and in life.

Dr Alan Stevens

Stevens came to ETSU 11 years ago after earning a doctorate from the University of Arizona. Since then, he’s founded the award-winning group Greyscale, toured the country with BucsWorth, written book chapters on teaching and conducting, served as artistic director of the Knoxville Gay Men’s Chorus, and was a fellow of the International Choral Directors Association of the American Choral Directors Association. in 2017 he traveled to Brazil to conduct at the famous Conservatório de Tatuí, among many other accomplishments.

“Dr. Stevens is a valued colleague and the Department of Music is a dynamic place,” said Dr. Joe Bidwell, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. to students and the public.

Stevens wants to see every ETSU student take at least one music class.

“I also strongly encourage all students to continue making music at ETSU if they can,” he said. “If a student was singing in a choir or playing in a band in high school, why stop? ETSU ensembles are among the closest groups of friends and colleagues I have seen on campus.

What you won’t find is Stevens coating the demands of the discipline.

“The reality is that a career in the arts is very difficult, often unpredictable and can be extremely frustrating,” he said.

It asks any student interested in a music major a series of questions, including: Are you ready to face hours of practice and performance, and to perfect not only your instrument and voice, but also to study the music theory, music history, diction and more?

“I don’t want to scare anyone off from the major, but I want every student to know that this degree requires a level of time commitment that most other majors don’t have,” he said. “I want students to realize that this career is 95% hard work, frustration and practice – but the 5% that exists for those incredible moments of performance when the world holds its breath – it’s worth it,” did he declare.

Dr. Kimberly D. McCorkle, ETSU provost and senior vice president for academics, said the music department enriches both the campus and the community.

“East Tennessee State University strives to improve the lives of people in our region and beyond,” she said. “Dr. Alan Stevens and the music department help us achieve this goal.”

To learn more about the ETSU Department of Music, visit

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