The Catholic University of America (CUA) was created in 1887. Shortly afterward, the study of music and performance began. In 1950, music became a “division,” then, in 1954, a department in the School of Arts and Sciences. It was designated a school of music in 1965. In 1984, it was named in honor of Benjamin T. Rome, an alumnus, a trustee emeritus, and a long-time friend and benefactor. The school remains the preeminent center for the study of music, performance, and research in Catholic higher education in the United States and is recognized internationally for its diverse curricula. The music school offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees—including in some disciplines doctor of philosophy and doctor of musical arts programs—in the performance of instrumental music, piano, voice, and musical theatre, as well as choral conducting and sacred music, composition and theory, musicology, orchestral conducting, music education, and voice and piano pedagogy. The school has maintained a three-decade emphasis on Latin American music and has a number of experts in this field on its faculty.
Long considered an important center for undergraduate- and graduate-level training in vocal performance and opera, in the last two decades, the school has developed a nationally recognized program in musical theatre. CUA alumni include Patrick Carfizzi, who has just celebrated his 300th performance at the Metropolitan Opera, Grammy-winning operatic tenor John Aler, and Harolyn Blackwell, a star of the Metropolitan Opera who was chosen by Leonard Bernstein to perform in his Broadway revival of West Side Story. One of this year’s winners of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions was Patrick Guetti, an alumnus of both the voice performance and musical theatre programs at CUA. Alumnus Issachah Savage, who won the first prize and two other prizes in the International Wagner Competition at Seattle Opera in August 2014, makes his Metropolitan Opera debut in spring 2015. Recently, musical theatre alumna Rose Hemingway starred opposite Daniel Radcliffe in the Broadway revival of How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying.