Faculty Profile: Dr. Murray Gross
For Murray Gross, making beautiful music has been as natural as breathing for as long as he can remember. His childhood was spent playing the piano and clarinet; later he joined choirs and started studying composition. By 15, he was already conducting concerts.
“The conductor for our high school orchestra was ill, and the supervisory teacher assigned to our class wasn’t trained in music and had never conducted before,” says Gross, who is an assistant professor of music and director of the Alma Symphony Orchestra. “When I offered to step up and conduct, she was very thankful.”
After studying at the Interlochen Arts Academy, New England Conservatory and the Oberlin Conservatory, where he received a master’s degree in music, Gross embarked on a varied and exciting career as a professional musician. In addition to almost every state in the country, he has conducted throughout Europe and South America.
In 2004, after deciding to focus more on teaching and composition, Gross earned his Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Michigan State University and joined the Alma College faculty. He says he is delighted to teach a variety of courses in this liberal arts setting, noting that each member of the music department brings something special to campus.
“For an institution of our size we have a very strong program,” he says. “The Alma Symphony Orchestra plays challenging repertoire at a very high artistic level, and many people are surprised when they hear how good the orchestra is. There are a number of very strong ensembles here at Alma, and we pride ourselves on the fact that while the quality of music making is very high, you don’t have to be a music major to participate.”
But even while Gross remains in Alma, his music still can be heard in far-off locales. As a composer, his works often win awards and are played frequently by professional and collegiate ensembles across the globe, including, most recently, Rio de Janeiro.