Announcing the Adams School of Music and the Arts at Gordon College

Gordon Establishes the Adams School of Music and the Arts

Today Gordon College announced the establishment of the Adams School of Music and the Arts, bringing together the best of Gordon’s creative and performing arts programs into a distinct, collaborative entity. Acclaimed performer and pedagogue Dr. Sarita Kwok, who has led Gordon’s Department of Music for 10 years, has been named the inaugural dean of the School, which will serve as the home for musicarttheatre arts and communication arts as well as the signature Gordon in Orvieto study abroad program. The School is named for longtime patrons of the arts and faithful Gordon supporters Stephen and Denise Adams.  

“We are deeply grateful for the remarkable generosity of Stephen and Denise Adams, whose commitment to music and the arts at Gordon will fuel a new generation of creative contributors to God’s Kingdom,” says President Mike Hammond. “We live in a world searching for meaning, healing and beauty, and the new Adams School of Music and the Arts will equip our students with the highest level of craftmanship and commitment to Christ. Our hope is that new community-focused programs will serve our North Shore neighbors well as our students and faculty share their musical and artistic gifts.” 

A Vibrant Arts Venue

Stephen and Denise Adams
Stephen and Denise Adams

The Adams School of Music and the Arts will expand and solidify Gordon’s status as a serious institution for artists, actors, musicians and storytellers to pursue their creative talents and callings. Poised to become a vibrant arts venue on the North Shore of Boston, the Adams School of Music and the Arts will pursue interconnected marketing and programming for all music and performance art events, with the potential to launch season passes that grant community members access to every public-facing performance and exhibit each year. A planned state-of-the-art music building will facilitate interconnected curricular offerings and an expansion of on-campus, community and summer programs. 

The Adams School of Music and the Arts is named in honor of Stephen and Denise Adams for their faithful commitment to music and the arts at Gordon College. Humble and generous in spirit, the Adams are faithful Christians with a longtime passion for the arts in higher education. Previous support included establishing the Adams Endowed Chair in Music at Gordon College in 2018, which has since been held by Kwok and is one of two endowed chairs at Gordon in the arts (the Lothlorien Distinguished Chair in Fine Arts position had been held by renowned painter Bruce Herman).

“Like a newborn needs the human touch, the soul needs music and art,” says Denise Adams. “We wanted to do our part to give talented, creative students hope and incentive to follow their calling.  Our prayer for Gordon is that it becomes a premier destination for students in higher education seeking excellence in music and the arts. The artistic disciplines of music, theatre, visual arts and communication arts inform one another, becoming stronger together as a School. The outreach the performing arts offers by bringing the local community onto campus—it is such a beacon of light to the North Shore and beyond.” 

Serving Students and the Community

The Adams School of Music and the Arts builds on Gordon’s legacy for nationally accredited music education, top-tier performances and community engagement. These departments are actively engaged in international and domestic tours, community-focused workshops, clinics, visits to high-schools, on-campus programming for high school students and more. Close to 30% of Gordon’s entire student body is participating in some capacity in musicarttheatre arts and communication arts as a major or minor, or through many co-curricular opportunities including musical ensembles, theatre performances, communication presentations and more that happen every year on campus. 

Dr. Sarita Kwok
Dr. Sarita Kwok, Dean of the Adams School of Music and the Arts

“Gordon College was birthed in an ethos in which the beauty of Christian faith was proclaimed through music, visual arts, drama and storytelling” says Kwok, who previously served on the faculty of Yale School of Music and Yale Department of Music. “Our founder A. J. Gordon, himself a musician, championed community, servant hearts and music for all. Now, 135 years later, music and the arts continue to provide a safe space for dialogue and healing in our increasingly polarized society. At Gordon, we see this as an opportunity to serve not only our students but the wider North Shore community.” 

Now in its 34th year, the annual Christmas Gala is consistently the largest Christmas celebration on the North Shore, drawing almost 2,500 people to campus each year. An additional 60+ annual music performances bring a similar volume into the A. J. Gordon Memorial Chapel and stunning, state-of-the-art Phillips Recital Hall designed by the architect behind the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s Seiji Ozawa Hall at Tanglewood. Two main theatre performances, plus some smaller productions, draw an additional 2,000 per year, and approximately four art gallery exhibitions bring in another 500 yearly.

Not only are the arts bringing people to Gordon’s campus, but students and graduates are launching into the local community. For 20 years the Department of Music has boasted a 100% job placement rate for all music education graduates, most of whom are spread across New England and within 200 miles of Gordon’s campus. Required internships in communication arts and design send dozens of students each year into local businesses, including design firms, museums, galleries, churches, schools and community theatre programs.

The signature Gordon in Orvieto program will celebrate 25 years this summer of impacting nearly 1,000 students during its tenure. 

About The Adams School of Music and the Arts

The Adams School of Music and the Arts prepares creative contributors to bring meaning and beauty into an increasingly complex and divided world. Music and the arts have been a part of Gordon’s DNA since its inception; founder A. J. Gordon was a pastor, composer and man of music in addition to being a faithful and inspiring Christian leader, as well as a passionate advocate for his local community. 

Today Gordon offers a Master of Music Education; professional degrees (Bachelor of Music) in music education and music performance; and Bachelor of Art degrees in musicarttheatre arts and communication arts. Minors are also available in these areas as well as in musical theatre (a new collaborative program between theatre and music), fine artgraphic design3D designjournalismsports mediacommunication and culture, and strategic communication. Additional international seminars and tours, signature concerts, events and productions are available to Gordon students. In 2019, Gordon’s theatre program was ranked by The Princeton Review among “Top 20 Best College Theatres” in America.

Located in the dynamic, artistically robust Cape Ann area, Gordon’s music and arts programs receive top caliber performers as visitors every year thanks to faculty members’ extensive and valuable professional relationships in public school districts, industry, performing arts organizations and more. Just north of Boston’s cultural artistic hub with museums, studios and festivals like the Boston Symphony, Handel and Haydn Society, MFA and more. These connections provide internship, career, graduate school and performance opportunities to students. 

Faculty in the Adams School of Music and the Arts are recognized leaders in their fields, having trained at the Rhode Island School of Design, Yale and New England Conservatory; been nominated for GRAMMY Awards; performed internationally and nationally at Carnegie Hall, Metropolitan Opera; released on major record labels and published in major publications. Alumni have successfully launched into careers in the arts, including becoming internationally touring musicians, SAFTA nominees, sitcom writers, visual effects artists, Broadway costume designers and prominent classical conductors. 

Upcoming Events in the Adams School of Music and the Arts