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Jeff PappasWith a new building in the works, plans to equip it with the world’s best pianos, and a new director on the job, there’s a new song playing for UT’s School of Music.

Jeffrey Pappas began work August 1 as the school’s new director.

Among his priorities will be getting the new Natalie L. Haslam Music Center up and running and promoting the School of Music’s Steinway initiative, which is integral to the university’s mission of becoming a Top 25 public research institution. To receive All-Steinway School status, an international mark of music excellence, at least 90 percent of an institution’s pianos must be Steinway-designed. The school’s goal is to raise $3.5 million to purchase sixty-one Steinway pianos. To date, the school has received more than $1.6 million in gift commitments, with the purchase of pianos underway.

The new $40 million music building will open to students in fall 2013. It represents the first time all School of Music programs will be under one roof.

The four-floor, 123,000-square-foot facility will include the 400-seat Sandra G. Powell Recital Hall; a new music library; rehearsal facilities for band, choral, opera, and orchestra programs; computer labs, a recording studio; forty performance studios/offices; and a variety of technology-enhanced classroom and rehearsal rooms.

Pappas said all the changes will give music students more opportunities than they’ve ever had before.

“Students will have every opportunity to fully develop their talents,” he said. “We expect to graduate students who are at the top of their game.”

A Cincinnati native, Pappas got his start in music at age 5, when his father, a semi-professional athlete, encouraged him to take piano lessons to ensure he had a well-rounded life experience. He could often be found playing the piano next to the machines in his family’s dry cleaning business. But, it was winning a voice competition that ignited Pappas’ passion for music and set the course for his education and career.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in vocal performance from Northern Kentucky University, a master’s degree in choral conducting from the University of Illinois, and a doctorate in choral conducting and pedagogy from the University of Iowa.

Pappas spent the last five years as professor and chair of the Department of Music at Marshall University. Prior to his appointment at Marshall, he was the director of choral activities and coordinator of ensembles and conducting at Ball State University. He has also served in positions at Mississippi State University, Clarke College, and Otterbein College.

“I view leadership as a calling to serve,” Pappas said of his new position. “The best leaders and administrators serve. As director, I’m here to serve the faculty, staff, and students of our great School of Music. I feel privileged to have that opportunity.”

Pappas succeeds the late Roger Stephens, who was director of the School of Music from August 2001 through February 2011. Angela Batey, UT director of choral activities, served as interim director.


Lola Alapo (865-974-3993, lola.alapo@tennessee.edu)