Faculty Spotlight: O’Hara Joins Sunderman Conservatory and Teaches Course on Video Game Music


Dr. William O'Hara (Photo Alex Pearson / The Gettysburgian)

Dr. William O’Hara (Photo Alex Pearson / The Gettysburgian)

By Alex Pearson, Contributing Writer

When Dr. John “Buzz” Jones retired last spring after 28 years as a music professor who helped to build the Sunderman Conservatory, he left big shoes to fill. That challenge falls to Dr. William O’Hara, who has joined the Conservatory as an Assistant Professor of Music focusing on Theory and Composition. With a friendly smile and warm handshake, he welcomes students into his office.

O’Hara received a B.M. from Miami University, an M.A. from University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a Ph.D. from Harvard University. During graduate school, he found a way to combine things he loved with academic study. As a Music Education major, he fell into the world of musicology by way of conducting. He decided that he wanted to teach college. His dissertation, “The Art of Recomposition: Creativity, Aesthetics, and Music Theory,” came out of a class taught by his future advisor. Pursuing and spiraling into his interest, O’Hara wrote a blog post on Dream Courses for Music majors and minors about what they should be taking and how teaching methods could be improved.

At Gettysburg, in addition to teaching courses in music theory for majors and minors, he will teach a course open to all students on video game music — a special interest for O’Hara. The course will focus on “technological, sociological, and artistic issues related to games and game music; will critically examine notions of play; explore the evolution of video game soundtracks; analyze how music operates in games; explore and critique “music games” such as Guitar Hero; and explore music and sound in game-related cultural phenomena (such as video game soundtrack concerts and tribute bands).”

O’Hara, who is married and has a one-year old daughter, is new to the Pennsylvania area, and he liked the size of Gettysburg and its community. The faculty ensured that he met everyone and got a good sense of the school, and he has enjoyed his conversations with faculty and students.

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Author: Alex Pearson

Alex Pearson '21 intends to double major with a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance and a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish with a minor in English focusing on Creative Writing. She intends to join choir as well as get involved in community service and Spanish-related activities. Follow her on Twitter @alexpearsonstar and on Instagram @smilealexpearson.

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