David Grossman ’18 will focus on film composition in graduate school


As they drove away from the Westminster Choir College campus after Preview Day four years ago, David Grossman turned to his mother and said, “This is where I’m going to school.”

He had applied to – and been accepted by – two other colleges, but one day experiencing all that Westminster has to offer was enough for him to choose to spend the next four years at the Choir College. 

“In addition to being a true campus environment like I wanted, instead of a music building on a campus, we both loved the sense of family we felt in just that one day,” he recalls.

The Westminster campus wasn’t exactly new to him.  After deciding in ninth grade to switch from a career path in marine biology to music composition, he was told that he needed to make up for lost time in terms of music study.  Luckily, he lived in Belle Mead, N.J., close to the Westminster campus, so he was able to enroll in the High School Honors Program at Westminster Conservatory, Westminster’s community music school, and attended some of the Choir College’s summer programs for high school students. 

Reflecting on his Westminster experience, Grossman says, “I’ve had so many highlights over my four years, it’s difficult to pick just a few.  One of the top highlights for many Westminster students is singing in Symphonic Choir performances with various orchestras. For me, one of my favorites would be performing Rachmaninoff’s All Night Vigil my junior year.  Although the Russian was expectedly difficult when we began rehearsals, I loved working through that piece and performing it with the full 200+ member Symphonic Choir in St. Paul the Apostle Church in New York. In addition to singing all 15 movements as a member of the semi-chorus, I loved getting to sing with basso profundo Glenn Miller in the concert – especially when he decided to drop an extra octave and still overpowered the rest of the bass section.”

He adds, “My other highlight has to be the first performance on Bell Choir tour my junior year. Although we had had several performances the previous semester, loading and unloading the bus that first day and performing for the first of 10 audiences was an entirely different experience. As exhausted as all of us were by the end of tour, each of those performances was exhilarating.”

In September he’ll enroll in the Master of Music in Film Composition program at the prestigious Seattle Film Institute.

“Even though Westminster doesn’t offer any specific courses in film composition, the composition faculty encouraged my compositional diversity in lessons,” he says. “I was also able to take a music history elective in film music that, while it didn’t teach composition, exposed me to many more styles and eras of film music than I was previously familiar with.”

While most Composition majors write a large-form composition, such as a concerto or symphony, for their senior project, Grossman asked his advisor, Dr. Stefan Young for permission to write a film score instead since he believed that would be more beneficial to his career.  Throughout his four years at Westminster, his professors always supported him, and this time was no different.  Dr. Young’s answer was yes, and Grossman selected the 1925 adaptation of The Lost World, based on a Sir Arthur Conan Doyle novel.  

The Master of Music in Film Composition at the Seattle Film Institute is a very intensive one-year program, so Grossman knows he will have quite a year ahead of him.  After earning his master’s degree, he plans to intern for a couple of years to gain some experience while looking at doctoral programs. “Although I ultimately want to work as a film composer,” he says, “after a lot of encouragement from some of my teachers, I can see myself eventually teaching at the college level. I don’t know where exactly my career path will take me – working more as a film composer and conductor, teaching more, or just doing one or the other exclusively.  For now I’m keeping my options open.”