From student to director

Jordan Kuspa, Richland’s director of orchestras and chamber ensembles, will soon be known as “Doctor Kuspa.” He is nearing completion of his doctoral degree with a concentration on music composition from Yale University’s School of Music. He will graduate in May.

“It’s an unusual program in which I finished my course work on campus five years ago before teaching at Richland,” Kuspa said. The doctoral committee asked him to show success as a musician in the wider world before awarding him the degree.

“It’s the only school that has a program like that so my work here at Richland and the work I had done making music in the Dallas community, around the country, and nationally all contributed to a portfolio,” said Kuspa.  “The community at Yale decided my portfolio was sufficiently impressive so they invited me back.”

The first part of Kuspa’s jury was building a portfolio of his work, showing what he could do as a musician. After that part was accepted into the portfolio, he presented a recital. Kuspa returned for a week in November to rehearse and prepare for the concert.

“So I hired musicians, mostly from New York,” said Kuspa.  “I also have a friend, Nicholas Baker, up from Dallas, to come play with me at the recital. They presented four pieces of mine:  a string quartet, piano quartet, percussion quartet and the duo for violin and viola.”

After passing the recital, Kuspa met again with the doctoral committee for his oral exams.

“They asked questions about music history, music theory and my own music,” he said. “And at the end, I was done. There was champagne and they graduated me.” Kuspa said.

Kuspa’s primary instrument is the cello. He performs frequently at Richland and plans to continue teaching here after he receives his doctorate. He also hopes to get more people to listen to his compositions and collaborate with other great musicians.

“The goal is to always to be able to keep composing music and making music,” he said.

Kuspa is looking forward to graduation ceremonies.  He said, “It is always fun to go to Richland graduation where people achieve that milestone and walk across the stage.”

He is excited to do the same.