Carnegie Mellon University

School of Music

Jonathan Bailey Holland Shares His Vision for the School of Music

written by
Cally Jamis Vennare

Even though Jonathan Bailey Holland arrived in Pittsburgh only weeks ago, his passion for the community, institution and students that he now serves as the new Jack G. Buncher Chair and head of the School of Music at Carnegie Mellon University is infectious. His vision for the school is firmly grounded in CMU’s strong foundation of creating successful artists and musicians who are not only prepared for the future, but also thriving in the arts. As an acclaimed composer, he also recognizes that the world has changed, dramatically, during the past two years.

“I think we can all agree that the landscape for any career has changed, particularly in the arts, and that there is a greater need to adapt to changing circumstances,” he said. “We need to make sure that we are preparing our students to be self-reliant and to be ready to pivot for whatever it is that is coming next. We must ensure that they have confidence in their vision and their voice … and the necessary tools to share them.” Holland also believes that one of the most important aspects of his new position is to continue to foster a sense of community among various areas of study within and outside of the School of Music. That commitment to, and desire for, “cross-fertilization” of ideas and disciplines is what initially drew him to CMU.

“I want us to think about drama, stage presence and its connection to how a musician can command the stage. I want to discuss the relationship between form and purpose and its importance to musicians, as well as architects. And I want us to continue to foster the interdisciplinary relationships that link science, technology and the arts.”

“Jonathan is a celebrated creator of new music, a devoted and inspiring teacher and a
leader known for building community,” said Mary Ellen Poole, dean of the College of Fine Arts. “We are in very good hands for the adventures ahead.”

By reaching outside of the campus community and bringing in guests to share their knowledge and expertise, Holland also seeks to expand the school’s “external profile.” In summer 2023, American Symphony Orchestra League members will converge in Pittsburgh for the organization’s annual conference, providing yet another opportunity for CMU students to engage with an influential national audience of musicians and administrators.

“It’s exciting for me to be somewhere where you can have a student focused on being the best musician they can be, and you can have a student who has diverse interests that they want to merge together,” Holland said. “Both can be successful here. That’s extremely exciting and an example of what I hope I can continue to build upon.”