David Salkowski

To me, the liberal arts stand for the principle that not all learning needs to be instrumentalized, and this is a privilege that I wish more people had.

David Salkowski BA ?14

Pronouns

he/him

Degree and Class Year

BA ’14

Current City

Atlanta, Georgia

Major

Music

Minor

Russian Studies

Extracurriculars

Orchestra, Wind Symphony, Russian Club

Overseas study

Saint Petersburg, Russia

What three words would you use to describe L&C?

Caring, Creative, Idealistic

Job Title, Organization

Adjunct Professor of Musicology, Kennesaw State University

Life at L&C

What made you want to come to Lewis & Clark?

The blend of academic rigor and freedom appealed to me, as well as the type of community students seemed to enjoy outside of the classroom. The idyllic location and Portland’s music scene sure helped, too.

How do you describe the liberal arts?

To me, the liberal arts stand for the principle that not all learning needs to be instrumentalized, and this is a privilege that I wish more people had.

Why did you major in music?

All I ever wanted to do was play and write music. While at L&C I also picked up a love of researching and writing about music.

What was your favorite arts-related class? How did it expand your knowledge?

Professor Michael Johanson’s Introduction to Music Composition course. I had no idea how to write so-called classical music before that class. Professor Johanson’s teaching is so thoughtful and his approach is so student-centered that it helped me overcome that barrier. The course showed me techniques and ways of thinking about music that opened up an entire field of expressive possibilities for me.

What was your overall favorite non-arts-related class? Why?

My favorite class outside of the arts was one of the upper-level Russian courses I took with Professor Osipovich (now emerita). It was the first time I found myself seeking out material in a foreign language that interested me and the first time I wrote an essay in long form in Russian. It prepared me for study in Russia (and, eventually graduate school), but it also gave me access to Russian culture and literature in a new way.

Describe the arts-related highlight(s) of each of your years on campus.

  • First year: The highlights of my first year were probably the student-organized performances. From the very beginning, seeing peers perform at open mic nights at the Platteau or on Wednesday night at Maggie’s was really inspiring, and many of my best college memories center on playing music with friends in these settings.
  • Second year: During my second year, I became fully immersed in the music major at L&C. One of the unexpected highlights of the academic study of music was finally learning how to sing!
  • Third year: It was during my third year that I studied abroad in Saint Petersburg, Russia. One of the concerts I attended was a performance of Orthodox choral music in the Church of the Savior on the Spilled Blood. It made quite an impact, because that was the style of music I would eventually write my doctoral dissertation about.
  • Fourth year: Putting together my senior composition recital, with the guidance of faculty and in collaboration with fellow students was one of the most meaningful and memorable experiences during college, if one of the most challenging.

What were some of your favorite arts experiences in the Portland arts scene?

I went to lots of shows in clubs and houses and played in a few, as well. A particularly memorable experience is biking all across town during my first week of my first year to see shows strewn across venues during Music Fest NW. Portland also has great classical and “alternative” classical scenes. I loved seeing new music (“contemporary classical”) at smaller venues like the Alberta Rose Theater or the Portland Community Music Center, often with L&C faculty performing.

Did you have any arts internship or professional development opportunities while you were at Lewis & Clark?

I had a terrific internship at All Classical Portland, the nonprofit radio station, after my junior year. It made for a really fun summer, and it eventually led to a full-time job at the station for a year after graduation.

Where did you find community on campus?

I found community in Evans Music Building and in the Visual and Performing Arts living-learning community. I am still close friends with several people I met there.

Who is your mentor on campus? Why do you consider this person your mentor?

I had many mentors at L&C! Aaron Beck has remained one of my mentors to this day. He showed me the joy of musicology, taught with infectious exuberance, and took care of his students outside of the classroom.

If you studied overseas while at Lewis & Clark, how did you choose your program? What did your overseas study add to your L&C experience?

I studied overseas in Saint Petersburg, Russia. I chose that program because I was—and remain—fascinated with Russian culture, and Saint Petersburg was at the center of that interest. It made a tremendous difference for the development of my language skills, which allowed me to carry out my senior thesis work and become engaged with the Russian community in Portland. Saint Petersburg is still an important part of my life today.

Life After L&C

What have you been doing since graduation?

After spending a year working at All Classical Portland and teaching music in Portland, I began a PhD program in musicology at Princeton University. In 2018–19, I returned to Saint Petersburg to conduct research on a Fulbright Grant. I defended my dissertation on Russian music in 2021, and I am now an adjunct professor of musicology at Kennesaw State University and, occasionally, Montclair State University.

How did Lewis & Clark prepare you for your job/grad school/volunteer work/whatever you’re up to?

Lewis & Clark prepared me very well for graduate school. The hands-on mentorship I had received from faculty like Aaron Beck and Tatiana Osipovich, the thoughtful pedagogy modeled by Michael Johanson and Kathy FitzGibbon, and, of course my classmates at L&C—all this gave me a much more holistic preparation for graduate school than I even realized at the time.

Now that you’ve been out of college for a while, what would you say is the most important thing you learned at Lewis & Clark?

Scholarship should be a humane practice.

What are your career goals?

I hope to continue my work in musicology as a professor and pass on the type of education I received at Lewis & Clark.