School of MusicSacramento State's music program will celebrate its new status with a concert Sept. 27. (ATCS/Bruce Clarke)

When Sacramento State’s music students, instructors, and staff decide to celebrate a major new and exciting program, it’s not your typical ribbon-cutting.

The former Music Department is now the Sacramento State School of Music (, and to commemorate the change, the school is presenting a gala concert at 5 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 27, filled with works representing the full range of talent and offerings on the campus, followed by an outdoor reception beneath the towering redwoods next to Capistrano Hall.

“The new name really helps our outward appearance and acknowledges the level of training available here,” says school Director Ernie Hills.

“School of Music” is the name typically given to comprehensive professional programs such as Sac State’s. The music programs at an overwhelming majority of large state universities around the country are so named.

The change was approved this summer by Frederika “Fraka” Harmsen, Sacramento State's provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, and by the National Association of Schools of Music.

“This brings us in line with that sort of national brand of a school of music as a comprehensive institution housed within a larger university,” Hills says. “We believe it will improve recruitment of new students – that it will be more prestigious to high school music students.”

The school is part of the College of Arts and Letters, and Dean Edward Inch is proud of the new designation. “What our faculty have built here is a tremendous model for how to build a strong program that serves the needs of an entire region – from student to community,” Inch says.

The Sept. 27 concert, “MOSAIC,” will take place at the Capistrano Concert Hall and is strictly student-focused, featuring more than 125 students in 10 performances. Offerings range from Edvard Grieg’s “Holberg Suite, op. 40” performed by the baroque ensemble Camerata Capistrano, to a saxophone quartet, to a piano solo of Prokofiev’s “Sarcasms, op. 17, no. 1,” to Milhaud’s “Provence” by the Symphonic Wind Ensemble, and more.

“To have that many performers crossing the stage in a short amount of time is pretty exciting,” Hills says.

The concert and outdoor after-party have another purpose. School of Music officials are using the evening to launch a Friends of Music group, reaching out to music alumni, regular concertgoers, and others who have helped fund and support the program. It totals about 6,500 people.

“I’m interested in seeing that Friends group grow into an active component of our overall program,” Hills says. “A group that cares about us and wants to see us do well.”

School officials are well aware of the tight budgets many recent alumni face, so membership in the Friends starts at $50 per year.

Tickets for “MOSAIC” are $20 general and $15 for students and seniors, and available at the University Ticket Office, (916) 278-4323 or For more information about the School of Music, visit the website or call (916) 278-6156. For media assistance, call Sacramento State’s Public Affairs office at (916) 278-6156. – Craig Koscho