Alumni interviews, with more coming!

Author: SMND

Graduates of SMND have chosen to work in a variety of positions in churches, the academy, the stage and in communities. SMND graduates are musically well trained and gifted, and have studied theology and liturgy, which makes them ideally suited for the plentiful and relatively well paid church jobs now available,  this giving SMND nearly a 100% placement record. Our powerful network of graduates reaches throughout the USA and into Canada, Europe, Africa, Korea, and Latin America. SMND is the most diverse graduate program in the university.

Alumni are now preparing sets of interviews for our website. These will include Myles Hayden, MSM, Organ, the Cantor at St. Lorenz Lutheran Church in Frankenmuth, MI; Jamie Caporizo, MSM, voice, a practicing church musician for several years before becoming a college administrator and the executive director of a local opera company; Philip Ganir, SJ, a church musician, now getting his PhD at Catholic University; and Benjamin Stone, MSM and DMA in organ, now Director of Liturgical Music and Organist at Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology. Stay tuned to meet these and other engaging alumni and learn about their careers.


SMND Alumni Chat: Alumni Jamie Caporizo (MSM ‘15) and Fr. Phillip Ganir, S.J. (MSM ‘17) recently had a chance to connect and share what life has been like for them lately.

Phillip Ganir, S.J. (PG):  I’m glad that we’ve had some time to reconnect! Last time we saw each other was when we had the chance to gather for Dr. Carmen Téllez’s memorial service at Notre Dame back in March. Even though it was such a sad occasion, I was really consoled in seeing so many friends and classmates gather together at once. What a reunion!


Jamie Caporizo (JC):  Agreed! The reason for gathering was sad, but I loved seeing so many friends and fellow Sacred Music alums gathered to celebrate Carmen’s life and legacy. It was my first time back to South Bend since moving to Reading, PA, and coming back into town brought back a flood of happy memories.


PG:  What have you been up to since March?


JC:  I am still working at Alvernia University as their Senior Director for Mission and Ministry, which keeps me on my toes. Over the summer I assumed the role of Executive Director of the Berks Opera Company in Reading, PA. We presented an original opera, Berks Legends, in June and are working on a new strategic plan to grow post-COVID.  Wow, OK, that sounds very formal, but the creative process has been exciting! We have a great Board and are learning new roles to engage our community with in-home performances and working with local schools.

1 Jamie Caporizo Img 5609 2021 Athlete Commissioning Alvernia Landscape
Jamie Caporizo (foremost center) at the 2021 Athlete Commissioning, Alvernia University


PG:  Neat! I particularly appreciate the invocation with new music, and all the ways you had to be creative through Covid! It must have been hard!


JC:  Yes, we certainly had our challenges! What about you, Phil? What have you been up to these days?


PG:  I’m in the process of editing my dissertation in Catechetics in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at the Catholic University of America in Washington DC. And I currently live in residence with about 55 other Jesuits at Georgetown University.

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Fr. Phillip Ganir, S.J saying mass at Dahlgren Chapel for the students at Georgetown University

JC:  How exciting, to be in the editing process! Since you matriculated into PhD studies at Catholic University immediately after your MSM program in Conducting at Notre Dame, have you been able to perform much?


PG:  Unfortunately, because of PhD work, I haven’t had time to perform as I would like, but there are many other ways I’ve been connected to music since Notre Dame. For instance, my dissertation topic is on James MacMillan’s 5th Symphony, and I’m trying to show how his work might be catechetical through mystagogy. I’ve also had a chance to work with men who suffer from homelessness at the McKenna Center, the local Jesuit outreach to those who suffer from homelessness.  For five years, I’ve been working with them to produce an annual Lessons and Carols Service. In fact, when I first produced this service five years ago, fellow Notre Dame Alumni, Elliott Smith and Matt Kelly, helped me.

3 Phillip Ganir Homeless Choir Mckenna Center
Fr. Phil conducting the Homeless Choir at the McKenna Center (Jesuit homeless shelter and food pantry) at Gonzaga High School, Washington DC

JC:  Amazing! I was at the McKenna Center in March, just after we saw each other! I advised a group of students from Alvernia on their Alternative Break to Washington, DC. The McKenna Center is amazing and we got the chance to meet with some amazing men. What a small world! I’m so glad you have the chance to minister with and for them in a musical way and bring in other ND alums!


PG:  Yeah, I think so too. That’s one of the things I have always loved about my time at SMND – that they are friends that I think I’d keep for life. Do you still keep in touch with friends from ND?


JC:  Absolutely! I stayed in South Bend for 5 years after completing my degree, so I continued a lot of friendships with other alums who stayed in the area for ministry.


PG:  It’s my understanding that you’ve become more involved in College Administration. In what way do you think that Notre Dame prepared you for the career path you find yourself in now?


JC:  Moving from full time music ministry to stewarding an entire university office was a challenge. However, I credit my ability to write grants, present at higher ed. conferences, and research new projects to my studies at Notre Dame. There was so much we were able to experience beyond the music we performed and studied- it offered a holistic education for our post-graduate lives and I’m very grateful. I remember emailing Fass when I was invited to my first conference last spring.  It felt like a full-circle moment for me. I hope I’ve come a long way since studying Music in the Medieval West!

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Jamie (center) takes a final bow after completing her graduate recital with Sacred Music, April 2015

PG:  That sounds like quite the journey, Jamie. And it would be really interesting to see how your career will continue to unfold as a leader. There is something to be said about the holistic education that you and I both received.

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Fr. Phil teaching an undergraduate elective course on "Mary and Music" as a Teaching Fellow for the School of Music, Drama and Art at Catholic University

JC:  If you could sum up your SMND experience in one sentence, Phil, what would it be?


PG:  The love and joy I experienced at Notre Dame came not so much from singing or conducting notes on a page (amazing as those concerts and liturgies were), but through the experiences I had of Christ refracted through so many people – fellow conductors, teachers, classmates, and many other collaborators.

Right back at you Jamie. What would you say?


JC:  I teach my students about spirituality of place and Notre Dame gave me a sense of connection to community and to God I wasn’t going to find anywhere else. I am grateful for my time there and the gifts it’s provided me. Whoops – that was two sentences!

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Jamie (center) with Peer Ministers, senior night 2021, Alvernia University

PG:  (Laugh) I know, hard to express love for SMND in one sentence! It’s always good to be with you Jamie!


JC:  I am so glad we had this chance to reconnect, Phil. Be well and keep in touch!