Courses & Programs

upcoming music events

Curious about what music events are coming up next? Access the performance schedule below.

music events

Music Department

Love music? Whether you are enrolled in the degree program, the certificate program, or taking some courses for interest and enrichment, we will make your experience exciting and rewarding.

Get involved in HCC's dynamic music program, which offers both a transfer associates of arts degree and a performance certificate.

A jazz group performs

Students of all majors are encouraged to participate in music ensembles, so if you performed in a vocal or instrumental group in high school, you can continue here at HCC. If you choose to major in music, you'll learn all the fundamentals and work on the latest technologies in music.

Graduates are prepared for further study in:

  • Music education
  • Performance (classical or jazz)
  • Music business
  • Music theater
  • Composition and arranging
  • Sound recording
  • Music therapy
  • And more!

Explore your career in music with our dedicated professors, accomplished musicians who will prepare you to transfer to any four-year music school.

Holyoke Community College is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM).

Music Student Handbook

Upcoming Events

music programs

Music program students receive a rich perspective of music through exposure to many artistic and culturally diverse styles. The department offers free public concerts, hosts guest performers and speakers, and sponsors an annual jazz festival, all of which develop a strong bond with the surrounding community. Students enter the Music Program through audition. Those students demonstrating significant potential, but with limited background in music reading or performance technique, will be placed in preparatory classes designed to develop the skills needed for college-level work. 

The purpose of the Music Performance Certificate is to acknowledge college-level work in music for those who are not completing the full A.A. degree in music. Upon completion of the certificate, when combined with another associate degree program, students will be prepared to pursue a Bachelor of Arts (rather than a Bachelor of Music) degree, or minor in music, at their transfer institution. Students who are not also enrolled in an Associate program will be prepared to audition at institutions that require a performance audition for admission. The certificate may be used by those students who would like to augment any degree program at the college with serious study in music, or simply to improve performance skills for personal enrichment.

I think about HCC a lot, and I attribute the success that I have now in large part to here, and my success making it through my grad studies. It gave me an introduction to a life when I wasn't sure what I wanted to do yet."

HCC music alum & oboe player Aaron Lakota '05

  • A student playing guitar

    hitting the right note

    HCC music program grads are prepared for further study in music education, performance (classical or jazz), music business, music theater, composition and arranging, sound recording, music therapy, and more.

  • A group of singers

    state-of-the-art spaces

    A view of Fine & Performing Arts rehearsal room 137.

  • Two guitar players

    learn to teach

    Classes like String Instrumental Methods will teach you how to teach others in specific areas of instrumental or vocal music.

  • A singer performing with sheet music


    Ready to take your place on the stage? Learn about the fundamentals of music performance.

music faculty

Headshot of Ania BostockAnia Bostock
Applied Classical Piano, Piano Ensemble, Class Piano

Ania Bostock (MMus, University of Massachusetts Amherst '11; Holyoke Community College '05) is a classical pianist specializing in solo repertory, accompaniment and collaborative music, piano pedagogy, and composing and arranging.  She teaches the class piano course series, directs the piano ensemble and the applied classical piano studio, and serves as staff piano accompanist.

Headshot of Mathonwy BostockMathonwy Bostock
Music Literature, Intro to Classical Music, Music Fundamentals

Mathonwy Bostock (Westfield State College, undergraduate studies in music history; University of Massachusetts Amherst, graduate studies in music theory; Antiochian House of Studies Seminary, graduate studies in liturgical musicology) is a historical musicologist and medievalist specializing in Western liturgical chant, sacred music of the Middle Ages, early music performance, and the ethnomusicology and performance of Welsh traditional and folk music. Courses: MUS 100 Fundamentals of Music, MUS 110 Introduction to Classical Music, MUS 259 Music Literature 1, MUS 260 Music Literature 2.

Headshot of Ellen CogenEllen Cogen
Applied Jazz Voice, College Chorale, Chamber Vocal Ensemble, Music Fundamentals, Musical Theater, Music Education

Beginning her musical studies as a classical pianist and cellist, Ellen Cogen began her vocal studies as a senior at the University of Massachusetts, from which she received her BM in Music Theory. She quickly fell in love with vocal art of all kinds, going on to earn her certification to teach vocal/choral music in the public schools, and her Master of Music in Vocal Performance (classical) from the New England Conservatory of Music. As a classical singer, she sang art songs, oratorio, and operatic repertoire, but was particularly drawn to the "crossover" style of classical cabaret, performing recitals featuring the music of Kurt Weill, Arnold Schoenberg, Benjamin Britten, and other composers of this genre. She became more and more enamored with jazz, and in the past several years, most of her performing has been as a jazz singer, sometimes accompanying herself, or with a variety of ensembles, from trios to big bands. She is the leader of jazz fusion group the Ellen Cogen Ensemble. As an educator, Ellen has taught middle school and high school, and is associate professor of music at Holyoke Community College and a visiting lecturer at Westfield State University. In addition to her choral direction at schools and colleges, she has led many church and community ensembles, and currently serves as director of music at Easthampton Congregational Church. Another love is musical theater, and Ellen has directed many professional, school, and community productions over the years, most recently serving as musical director for Holyoke Community College's production of "In The Heights." She enjoys organizing and performing in tribute concerts and fundraisers, and most recently was organizer/director of the Ella Fitzgerald Centennial Bash (held at HCC and the Log Cabin) and a Joni Mitchell 75th Birthday event at Gateway City Arts. Ellen has played and sung on several recordings, and has recorded three CD's of her own: "Necessary Mystery" (original compositions), "Listen To The Moonlight" (jazz standards), and "Chord of Longing" (an eclectic mix of musical styles ranging from classical to pop, arranged and performed with her duo partner and husband, guitarist John Mason). Ellen lives in Westhampton and has two daughters, Julia and Lily.

Headshot of Geoffrey CunninghamGeoffrey Cunningham
Theory, Brass-Wind Ensemble

Raised in Connecticut and educated at UMass Amherst under the direction of Jeff Holmes, Geoff's playing is influenced by trumpet greats Clifford Brown and Woody Shaw. Geoff plays throughout New England in various large and small ensembles, including a regular chair in the Amherst Jazz Orchestra and the Jeff Holmes Big Band. He teaches music theory and directs the Brass Wind Ensemble at Holyoke Community College, as well as ensemble coaching and trumpet instruction at Amherst College.

Headshot of Phillip de FremeryPhillip de Fremery
Applied Classical Guitar

Classical guitarist Phillip de Fremery, who has taught at HCC since 1986, has given more than five hundred concerts and master classes throughout the United States, Canada, and Central Europe. He has studied with Andres Segovia and Oscar Ghiglia, and was named the assistant to Maestro Ghiglia and was given his own master classes at the Aspen Music Festival from 1972 to 1975. It is of special interest to the HCC community that de Fremery was chosen to receive the Lani Morrison McKenna Guest Artist Award for his improvised score for "The House of Bernarda Alba," directed by Patricia Sandoval.

Headshot of Robert FerrierRobert Ferrier
Applied Jazz Guitar, Jazz Guitar Ensemble, Aural Skills, Intro to Jazz, Jazz Improvisation, Arranging

Bob Ferrier is a freelance guitarist and educator who has performed with Jon Faddis, Randy Brecker, Eddie Bert, John Fedchock, Claudio Roditi, Yusef Lateef, Peter Erskine, John Abercrombie, Rufus Reid, Steve Turre, Dave Samuels, and others. He holds a BM degree in Performance from Berklee College of Music, and a MM degree in Jazz Composition/Arranging from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Bob has studied with John LaPorta, William Leavitt, Herb Pomeroy, Bill Pierce, George Garzone, Jeff Holmes, Yusef Lateef, and others. He has been teaching guitar for forty years and is a professor and coordinator of jazz studies at HCC where he has been teaching since 1984. He has also been the applied jazz guitar instructor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst since 1995.

Headshot of Pete GrimaldiPete Grimaldi
Applied Trumpet, Jazz Ensemble

Pete has been on the HCC music faculty since 2000 as the trumpet instructor and jazz ensemble director. He is currently a member of the Jeff Holmes Big Band and the Amherst Jazz Orchestra. He is a former member of the USAF Band of the East. Pete performs often with orchestras at local and regional theaters for such shows as "Guys and Dolls" and "La Cage Aux Folles" at the Majestic Theater in West Springfield, as well as the Colonial Theater in Pittsfield for "A Chorus Line" and "Bells are Ringing." He holds a BA in Music Education and a M. Ed. in Education. He worked in area public schools for twenty-four years, and also teaches trumpet privately.

Headshot of David KidwellDavid Kidwell

Conductor and composer David Kidwell has been music director and conductor of the Holyoke Civic Symphony since 1997, serving longer than any other conductor in the orchestra's history. Under his leadership, the orchestra has grown both in size and ability. He has expanded the orchestra's commitment to education with educational concerts, pre-concert talks, and open dress rehearsals. And he has reinforced the orchestra's commitment to new music by commissioning nine new works and performing nearly fifty pieces by living American composers. Kidwell received the prestigious University of Mary Washington Young Alumnus Merit Award in 2004, and Holyoke mayor Alex Morse declared February 25, 2012 to be "David Kidwell Day." In 2011, Kidwell stepped down after 15 years as conductor of the Guilford Festival Orchestra in Vermont, an ensemble known for its performances of both contemporary music and chamber orchestra repertoire. Kidwell has also been Minister of Music at the Edwards Church of Northampton since 2000, leading one of the most accomplished church music programs in Western Massachusetts. Kidwell is an active composer whose works have been performed throughout the United States. Music critic Clifton J. Noble wrote, "The ways he manipulates the melody, his unerring harmonic sense and perceptive scoring speak with the honest originality that is the hallmark of America's most revered composers." He has previously been commissioned by the Litchfield County Children's Chorus (CT), Fairborn St. Luke United Methodist Church (OH), Bowling Green Baptist Church (VA), the Amandala Women's Chorus (CT), the Eagle Pipe Band (VA), the University of Mary Washington (VA), the Edwards Church of Northampton, and the Holyoke Civic Symphony. Kidwell's music has been published by Micropress, Lorenz, and MMB Music. David Kidwell was raised in a music-loving family in Virginia, where he played piano, organ, trumpet, and violin. After musical studies in Virginia and Connecticut, he moved to the Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts. He was music director and pianist for the Broadway-style revue "Le Cabaret" for six years and assistant conductor of the Pioneer Valley Symphony for five years. Kidwell has music directed over fifty musical and light opera productions by community theatre groups, and he is currently a substitute keyboardist at the Goodspeed Opera House. In 2004 he was music director for the Amherst Leisure Services production of "The Secret Garden," which won first prize in the International Maytime Festival in Dundalk, Ireland. Guest conducting engagements include the Smith College Orchestra, the University of Mary Washington Philharmonic Orchestra, the Maranatha Singers, the Valley Light Opera Orchestra, the Commonwealth Opera orchestra, the Pioneer Valley Symphony, the Pioneer Valley Symphony Chorus, and the Old Post Road Orchestra. David Kidwell holds a bachelor's degree in music from the University of Mary Washington and a master's degree in composition from the Hartt School. He has studied conducting at the Tanglewood Music Center, the Conductors Institute of South Carolina, and privately with Melvin Strauss. In 2011 he was a participant in the Music Direction Intensive program at the Goodspeed Opera House. Kidwell is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Broadcast Music International, the Conductors Guild, the American Guild of Organists, and the League of American Orchestras, and the American Federation of Musicians locals 171 (Springfield), 400 (Harford/New Haven), and 802 (New York City).

Headshot of Alexander KolliasAlexander Kollias
Applied Clarinet

Dr. Alexander S. Kollias has performed across the world in venues such as Carnegie Hall and the Winter Garden, in the World Financial Center in New York, the Yokosuka Arts Theatre in Japan, and Harpa in Reykjavik, Iceland. Kollias recorded on two previously released CD's with the GVSU New Music Ensemble, "Music for 18 Musicians" and "In C Remixed," both receiving much critical acclaim. Kollias was a winner of the Paranov Concerto Competition with his performance of Scott McAllister's "Black Dog," and a winner of the Jacqueline Avent Concerto competition with his performance of Mozart's "Clarinet Concerto." As a chamber musician, Kollias was a quarter-finalist in the Fischoff competition and is the principal clarinetist for the Hartford Independent Chamber Orchestra. He is also a founding member of the New Orleans style jazz ensemble, French 75. French 75 is quickly gaining recognition as a premiere ensemble in the greater northeast, and performed in the New Haven Jazz Festival and Riverlink Park Summer Concert Series. Along with performing, Kollias has a continuous commitment to pedagogy. Along with teaching at Holyoke Community College, he is on faculty at the Hartt School Community Division and the Hotchkiss School. His young students are competitive at the district and state levels, and many continue their clarinet studies at the collegiate level. Kollias holds both a Doctorate of Musical Arts and a Master of Music degree from the Hartt School, where he studied with Ayako Oshima.

Naomi Lesley (English Department /violin)

Headshot of Ted LevineTed Levine
Applied Saxophone

Ted Levine is on the faculty at Holyoke Community College, Westfield State University, and Mount Holyoke College. He has performed with many jazz greats such as Randy Brecker, Jon Faddis, Jimmy Knepper, Eliane Elias, Mario Pavone, Michael Musillami, Chris Vadala, Peter Madsen, and Peter Erskine. Levine has also been a soloist with the Springfield Symphony Pops and the Amherst College Orchestra, and is the founder and leader of the East Wind Saxophone Quartet. He toured Russia as a featured soloist with the Jeff Holmes Big Band and was a BET Jazz Discovery in 1996. In 1999, Mr. Levine worked under Pulitzer Prize-winning composer-conductor-educator Gunther Schuller in the Duke Ellington Tribute Orchestra at Amherst College. Recently, he was featured soloist and lead alto saxophone with the Pittsburgh Collective under the direction of composer David Sanford at the Knitting Factory in New York City. Ted is also a recording artist on the Playscape label. His two most recent CDs received rave reviews from major magazines such as Down Beat, Jazz Times, Cadence, and others.

Headshot of Elissa Brill PashkinElissa Brill Pashkin
Chair, Theory, Composition

Dr. Elissa Brill Pashkin received a BA in Music from the University of Pennsylvania and a Master's and Doctorate in Music Composition from Temple University as a University Fellow. Since 1993, Dr. Brill has been a member of the Music faculty of Holyoke Community College where she is professor of music and chair of the music department. Publications include (from Arsis Press/JW Pepper): Story Closet, floating and then not, Minnie, and Klezmer Music, and (from Dorn Publications/Amazon): 6 Miniatures for 4 Saxophones. Her self-published works include a variety of choral and instrumental pieces, for both large and small ensembles and are listed at Sheet Music Plus. Commissions and area performances of her work have included premieres by the Smith College Choirs, the Eastwind Saxophone Quartet, the Holyoke Civic Symphony, the Holyoke Community College Chorale, and the HCC Faculty Ensemble. The two-act opera Midas is her largest work to date. It premiered in April 2004 at Holyoke Community College. The Holyoke Civic Symphony performed Elissa's works in 1996, 2003, 2006, and 2014. At HCC she organizes the applied music lessons and music colloquium, teaches sophomore level music theory, and gives occasional composition lessons to those who wish to do additional elective work in that area. She especially enjoys working with students chosen to perform honors recitals, watching students successfully graduate and transfer, and seeing alumni return to HCC for concerts, visits, and intense music theory discussions.

Headshot of Elaine SaloioElaine Saloio
Applied Flute

Elaine Saloio, former Pappoutsakis winner and internationally known flutist, is adjunct professor of flute at Westfield State University. She also holds teaching positions at Holyoke Community College, Springfield Technical Community College, and the Community Music School of Springfield in Massachusetts. Ms. Saloio's master classes have impressed flutists throughout the eastern United States as well as the International Flute Festival in San Jose, Costa Rica. In addition to regular performances in the Greater Boston area, Ms. Saloio has performed as a soloist, orchestral, and chamber musician. She has also recorded original music for the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art's Picture Book Theatre in Amherst, Massachusetts. As a first prize winner of the James Pappoutsakis Memorial Flute Competition in Boston, Ms. Saloio performed a solo recital at the Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum. Currently, she proudly serves as a member of the Pappoutsakis' board of directors. Academic achievements include an undergraduate degree from the Boston Conservatory, and a master of music degree from the New England Conservatory, where she was honored to receive the school's prestigious Distinction in Performance Award. Major teachers and influences for Ms. Saloio include Tom Nyfenger, Lois Schafer, William Grass, and Randy Bowman. She has also performed in master classes for world renowned flutists Jeanne Baxtresser, Paula Robison, John Heiss, and Jean Pierre Rampal.  

David Sporny
Applied Trombone/Low Brass

David Sporny is a performer, educator, conductor, clinician, and arranger. He is recently retired from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst where he was professor of trombone, conducted the Chapel Jazz Ensemble and Trombone Choir, and performed with the Faculty Brass Quintet. After earning his bachelors and masters degrees from the University of Illinois, he became the low brass instructor at the Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan. During his 16 years at Interlochen he founded the Jazz Studies programs at the Academy and at the National Music Camp. He led the Dave Sporny Big Band and the Interlochen Jazz Quintet while being an active performer throughout the Midwest. Since coming to the university in 1982, he has been a frequent recitalist, clinician, and freelance trombonist in New England. He has conducted district and all state ensembles in 15 states. Being equally comfortable in both classical and jazz traditions, Mr. Sporny has appeared in concert halls throughout the world including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center, Tanglewood, and Ravinia. Tours with various ensembles have taken him to South America, Europe, Scandinavia, Eastern Europe, Japan, and Russia. He has performed with the Chicago Little Symphony, the Northwood Orchestra, Opera North, the Springfield and Hartford Orchestras, Ancora Chamber Ensemble, and the Corporate Brass. In 1997 he was chosen as principal trombone for the Festival Orchestra of Santa Domingo in the Dominican Republic. Most recently, as member of the Silk Road Ensemble, he performs with Yo Yo Ma. He has also performed with the Tonight Show Orchestra, Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey Orchestras, Les Elgart, Joe Williams, Frank Sinatra Jr., Nancy Wilson, Maureen McGovern, Aretha Franklin, Andy Williams, Dave Brubeck, Marian McPartland, Max Roach, Billy Taylor, Slide Hampton, and J.J. Johnson, to name a few. Dave Sporny is the founder and musical director of the Amherst Jazz Orchestra. In 2004 the International Association for Jazz Education presented him with a Lifetime Achievement Award. David Sporny has recorded 12 albums and 19 CDs for RCA, Brownstone, Seabreeze, Jazz Masters, and Original Cast Recordings. He is a voting member of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences.

Julia Urbank (classical voice)

Originally from Northampton, MA, Julia earned a B.M. in Vocal Performance and a minor in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from UMass Amherst and an M.M. in Vocal Performance from University of Wisconsin-Madison. While in school, Julia served as a Teaching Assistant for Music Theory and Aural Skills and sang multiple opera roles. Julia strives to inspire joy and love of music in a stress-free environment. She believes that music can be a transformative force for people of all ages when they are given the freedom to be creative and express their authentic selves. Julia is a teaching artist in CMSS' Adaptive Music Program, and in our Little Notes Early Childhood Music program.

Headshot of Elliot WallaceElliot Wallace
Applied Percussion, Percussion Ensemble

Elliot Wallace is a drummer, percussionist, and educator throughout New England and New York City. Highly active as a freelance percussionist, he has a diverse output. Elliot has performed with groups and institutions such as: Apartment Sessions, Powerstation Recording Studio, Ghost Hit Recording Studio, Ivoryton Playhouse, Playhouse on Park, Off Broadway Theater, Schubert Theater, the Fairfield Theater Company, the Yale Alumni Association, Richmond IN Symphony, the Connecticut Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra, 10th Intervention, the New Baroque Soloists, New Britain Symphony, Waterbury Symphony, Hartford Independent Chamber Orchestra, and many others. Elliot recently toured with Tenth Intervention performing "Eight Songs for a Mad King." He also toured Iceland in October with the group Apartment Sessions, recording more than ten new live music videos. Elliot also holds the position of dance accompanist at the University of Hartford. Elliot is also versed in world percussion, studying with conga greats Michael Spiro and John Amira, as well as Brazilian music expert Rogerio Boccato and African percussionist Joe Galeota. In January 2014, Elliot traveled to Ghana to study ewe drumming from master drummer Bernard Woma. Elliot's primary teachers were Dr. Larry Snider and Benjamin Toth. Elliot is currently the percussion instructor at the Hartt School Community Division, the Loomis Chaffee School, as well as professor of percussion at Holyoke Community College and Naugatuck Valley Community College. He also recently served as sabbatical replacement for Benjamin Toth at the Hartt School of Music. Elliot holds a bachelor degree from the University of Akron and a masters degree from the University of Hartford.   

Headshot of Rudi WeeksRudi Weeks
Applied Upright Bass/Electric Bass

Rudi Weeks has been adjunct bass faculty at HCC for over 30 years. Teaching and performing a wide variety of musical styles has been his passion since the early 1970s. His lessons stress a wide range of techniques and stylistic approaches to both the electric and upright bass. Technique is a particularly important and heavily stressed aspect of his students' development, as bass players have the highest incidence of repetitive motion injury of all musicians. Rudi's students develop all the tools necessary to avoid this problem. Other aspects of his teaching focus include but are not limited to sight reading of standard bass notation, transcription of bass lines from recordings, improvisation over chord changes, music theory, stylistic nuance, and common bass approaches to music from every corner of the world. Click here to learn more.  

Ralph Whittle
Applied Jazz Piano

Ralph Whittle studied piano with Marion Jensen at the Springfield Conservatory of Music. He also studied jazz with Robert Isernio and with classical pianist Grace Hall Merriam. He is a faculty member at Holyoke Community College, Westfield State College, the Community School of the Arts at the University of Connecticut, and others. Ralph has performed in short concert/seminar settings with Phil Woods, Louie Bellson, Jon Faddis, Herb Pomeroy, Peter Erskine, Sheila Jordan, and Yusef Lateef. He is a freelance pianist who performs a variety of musical styles in a variety of musical settings.  

upcoming music events

Curious about what music events are coming up next? Access the performance schedule below.

music events