Dean of the Faculty Jonathan L. Chenette
Jonathan L. Chenette has been Dean of the Faculty and Professor of Music at Vassar since 2008. Previously he was Associate Dean and held an endowed professorship at Grinnell College.
A graduate of the University of Chicago with a Ph.D. in music composition and a bachelor's degree in mathematics, he also holds a master's degree in music composition from Butler University. His music often focuses on relationships between people and the land, particularly in the context of the prairie Midwest where he enjoyed a twenty-five year career. His compositions have involved collaborations with writers, dancers, folk musicians, farmers, visual artists, and museums as well as performing ensembles including the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Netherlands Radio Chamber Orchestra, the Murasaki Duo, Red Cedar Chamber Music, Chatter, and Virelai.
Broken Ground, composed in collaboration with six Iowa poets, premiered in a concert of the Des Moines Symphony broadcast statewide over Iowa Public Television as part of Iowa's sesquicentennial in 1996. Other major works include the opera Eric Hermannson's Soul (1993), the song cycle Oh Millersville! (1990), the September 11 memorial composition Elegy and Affirmation (2002), and the orchestral works Chamber Symphony for 31 Instruments (1983), Triple Feature (1994), and Rural Symphony (2000). Works completed at Vassar include an orchestral fantasy on the tune Macapay (2008) for the Latin American duo Calle Sur, Onomatopoeia (2010) for quintet of winds and strings based on a 60-foot-long scroll painting by Santa Fe artist Signe Stuart, and Four Fibs (2012) for choir based on a poem by A.E. Stallings whimsically narrating the story of Adam and Eve in a poetic form based on line lengths derived from the Fibonacci Series. He is currently at work on a large-scale concert band composition evoking soundscapes of the Hudson Valley.
In higher education, Chenette has addressed national conferences on topics pertaining to place-based education, curricular innovation, and enhancement of teaching and learning with media technologies. His musical projects have received support through grants or fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, the Iowa Arts Council, the American Music Center, the American Composers Forum, and Meet the Composer. His compositions are available on CD's from Boosey & Hawkes, Capstone, Fleur de Son Classics, Innova, and Riverrun labels and in publications from Boosey & Hawkes, Theodore Presser, and Fish Creek Music.
Chenette is married to Jeanmarie Kern Chenette, harpist and music educator, who teaches at SUNY-Dutchess Community College. They have three children: Timothy, a Kenyon College graduate and Indiana University PhD with a tenure-track position in music theory at Utah State University; Nathan, a Harvey Mudd College graduate and Georgia Tech PhD teaching mathematics as a visiting assistant professor at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology; and Claire, an Oberlin double-degree (college and conservatory) graduate with master's degree from CalArts serving as acting principal oboe with the Knoxville Symphony. They also have two daughters-in-law and two granddaughters.