Crane School of Music

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Crane School of Music
Crane Logo
Motto "To learn -- to search -- to serve"
Established 1886
Type Public
Dean Michael Sitton
Academic staff
Undergraduates 630
Postgraduates 30
Location Potsdam, New York, United States
44°39′54″N 74°58′12″W / 44.6650994°N 74.97013429999998°W / 44.6650994; -74.97013429999998
Campus Rural
University State University of New York at Potsdam
Mascot Bear
The Crane School Quad at SUNY Potsdam

The Crane School of Music is located in Potsdam, New York, and is one of three schools which make up the State University of New York (SUNY) at Potsdam.

Crane consists of approximately 630 undergraduate and 30 graduate students and a faculty of 70 teachers and professional staff in a college of 4300 students and 250 faculty. Crane is housed in the Julia E. Crane Music Center on the north side of the campus. The complex consists of four buildings: two classroom buildings (Bishop and Schuette Halls), three concert areas (the newly renovated Helen M. Hosmer Concert Hall, 1290 seats, the Sara M. Snell Music Theater, 452 seats and the Ralph Wakefield Lecture and Recital Hall located within Bishop Hall, 130 seats) as well as extensive supporting areas. Located within Schuette Hall is the Crane Music Library, which includes an extensive collection of literature, scores, and recordings. Located within the music library is a MIDI Computer Lab. There are also extensive rehearsal rooms and a large number of practice rooms. All four of Crane's buildings are connected underground.

Crane is an All-Steinway School following the acquisition of 141 Steinway pianos beginning January 24, 2007. This $3.8 million purchase includes 3 new concert grand pianos and is the largest purchase order that Steinway has ever received in the history of the company.


The Crane School was founded in 1896 by Julia Etta Crane (1855-1923) as the Crane Normal Institute of Music and was one of the first institutions in the country to have programs dedicated to training public school music teachers.[1]

The school suffered from financial difficulties and in the 1920s Julia Crane petitioned the Juilliard Foundation to purchase her school. In 1922 she appeared before the Board of the Normal School to get the State Legislature to purchase the Crane Institute. She asked a price of $20,000 to incorporate the Crane Institute with the Normal School under the Department of Education. The bill was brought before the State Legislature and defeated.

In 1923 she was granted a leave of absence due to ill health. She died unexpectedly June 11, 1923 in her sister's home at 8 Lawrence Avenue, Potsdam. She is buried in Bayside Cemetery at Potsdam, New York.

Her will offered the State of New York first choice to purchase her school. In case of the State's rejection, the school would be offered to any private buyer who would carry on her work. After two attempts the legislature passed a bill to purchase the school in 1926. Her curriculum for music teacher education had been approved in 1924 by the State Education Department. The class of 1927 was the first to graduate from the Crane Department of Music of Potsdam State Normal School.

The Crane Symphony Orchestra was formed in 1939, the second earliest college orchestra in the country after Harvard. The permanent conductors have been Samuel Spurbeck, Maurice Baritaud, John Jadlos, Richard Stephan, Christopher Lanz, and Ching-Chun Lai. For many years a tour was undertaken every year, until financial restrictions curtailed the practice.

The Crane Chorus was founded in 1931 by Helen M. Hosmer. It is composed almost entirely of music majors at the Crane School of Music, and usually numbers between 185 and 200 singers. Principal conductors have included Helen M. Hosmer, Brock McElheran, Calvin Gage, Stanley Romanstein, Rick Bunting, Daniel Gordon, and Jeffrey Francom.

In addition to the permanent faculty, memorable performances have been given by such guest conductors as Franz Allers, Nadia Boulanger, Igor Buketoff, Sarah Caldwell, Stanley Chapple, Aaron Copland, Rodney Eichenberger, Alfred Gershfeld, Howard Hanson, Lukas Foss, Thor Johnson, Ann Howard Jones, Jan Meyerowitz, Charles O’Neill, Christof Perick, Eve Queler, Vincent Persichetti, Helmuth Rilling, Adnan Saygun, Gunther Schuller, Robert Shaw, Michael Tilson Thomas, Virgil Thomson.

Crane Opera Ensemble[edit]

Crane Opera Ensemble.jpg
Crane Opera Ensemble's production of Jaques Ibert's "Angélique" (2014)

The Crane Opera Ensemble offers students performing opportunities in operatic and musical theatre productions. The ensemble began producing shows in 1924 and several recent productions have been the recipients of national awards.[2]

Two fully staged productions are performed each year. Routinely, an Opera Scenes Workshop provides students the opportunity to study a partial role and perform it in an informal venue. The ensemble enjoys a collaborative relationship with the Department of Theatre & Dance, producing a musical theatre production every three years.

The ensemble also hosts an opera education outreach program. The program brings in large groups of children from local schools to experience opera and engage in post-performance workshops with cast members and faculty. To date, over 4,000 children have participated in the program.

Pellicciotti Opera Composition Prize[edit]

The first-prize winning premiere of "A Letter to East 11th Street"

Once every four years, the Domenic J. Pellicciotti Opera Composition Prize is awarded to a composer/librettist team developing an operatic work which explores and celebrates themes of tolerance, inclusion or diversity. Winning teams earn a commission of $25,000 and a premiere of their work at the Crane School of Music. The prize was founded by Dr. Gary C. Jaquay to honor his life partner Domenic J. Pellicciotti, an ardent fan of opera.[3]

The premiere of the first winners of the Pellicciotti Opera Composition Prize took place in November 2014. The following is a list of the winning works:

  • In a Mirror, Darkly (Christopher Weiss, Libretto by S. O’Duinn Magee)
  • The Fox and the Pomegranate (Matt Frey, Libretto by Daniel J. Kushner)
  • A Letter to East 11th Street (Martin Hennessey, Libretto by Mark Campbell)

Community Performance Series[edit]

Crane has played home to the Community Performance Series (CPS) since 1989. CPS brings outside artists in to perform at Crane. Often a visiting artist will also conduct a master class during their time at the school. A pre-concert lecture is also given by a member of the faculty on the evening of the concert.

Notable faculty & alumni[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "The County News: Interesting Items From Country and Village" (Pg. 6). Commercial Advertiser. June 17, 1896. Retrieved April 9, 2015. 
  2. ^ "Crane Opera Ensemble Chronology". Retrieved 2 August 2015. 
  3. ^ "Pellicciotti Opera Composition Prize Webpage". Retrieved 14 September 2015.