University School Welcomes New Director of Music


Stephen Weinberger, Staff Writer

Mr. Devon Steve returns to his alma mater this year to head and revamp University School’s High School music program.


After graduating from US in 2013, Mr. Steve attended St. Olaf College in Northfield Minnesota where he received a degree in Music Education with a concentration in Race and Ethnic Studies. While attending St. Olaf, Mr. Steve remained extremely involved in his ever-growing communities, participating in numerous musical and social projects, social justice work, and collaborations with community organizations. After graduating, Mr. Steve made his way out to Des Moines, Iowa, where he worked as the Assistant Director of Vocal Music and Theater Arts at Roosevelt High School. Mr. Steve continued to demonstrate his passion for community work and involvement, as he took part in choirs, concert bands, jazz bands, orchestras, marching bands, and more.


Mr. Steve has been involved in the musical world for most of his life. Mr. Steve explains, “from a young age I’ve always been interested in music. My mother put me in music classes when I was three years old . . . and she’s like ‘[he’ll] just sit in the back’ . . . I was really involved early.” Mr. Steve attended numerous childhood music programs and music schools from a young age, sparking his lifelong love for music.


Mr. Steve has a passion for social justice and community work, and he likes to bring these things into the classroom and incorporate them into the musical curriculums at US as much as possible. This passion for community issues was greatly influenced by Mr. Steve’s time at US as Mr. Steve explains, “my interest in social issues, and organizations, and ways to build community, started to grow as I started to participate in Pembroke society, in the GSA. While I was a student here at US, that just kind of became a natural path.”


Mr. Steve returned this year as an alum to US, to accept the position of Director of Music, a decision which Mr. Steve now reflects on. “I had to be convinced a little bit to apply to the interview . . . and I was kind of convinced by Mr. Singer . . . and Mr. Perry . . . to apply and then when I interviewed, being here again is actually what solidified it for me. I was very pleased at how the school had grown and changed to be more accepting, more welcoming of all kinds of people, to be really supporting their mission not just by talk, but in action, to supporting their mission of growing young men to be men of promise, and I found that just in my visit and talking with boys and talking with teachers, that that was true, and so it was encouraging as an alum to see that, and then at the time as an applicant, so I wanted to be in a school that really honored its own mission.”


Mr. Steve works hard to expose his students to various styles of music from different cultures of the world, seeing diversity in all aspects of life as crucial. Mr. Steve works with different musical groups at US, sharing his passion for social justice and communities with his students. Mr. Steve describes, “we tend to find a variety of different styles. In Glee club, for example, we’re singing an ancient Latin text or singing a Nigerian folk song. We’re singing a gospel song, we’re singing an American folk tune, we’re singing a song in Hebrew, we have The Beatles represented, we have a song from Home Alone. We’re incorporating a variety of different cultures within the ensembles . . . We’re exposing students to a number of different styles of playing, inviting them to then explore the cultures from which those styles derive.”


Although we are only a few months into the school year, Mr. Steve has already made several fond memories. “I have really enjoyed all of the ceremonial traditions at the beginning of the year, teaching Hail University School and the Fight Song, that was a lot of fun. It’s also been really exciting to meet new faculty or to reconnect with some of my old mentors . . . and have the opportunity to learn and grow with them and be a part of this community that I just went from the student to now being a faculty member. It’s just really been enlightening in a number of ways, but it’s also really rewarding.”


Looking ahead, Mr. Steve describes what he looks forward to this year. “I am looking forward to all of our performing arts events, but I’m also looking forward to seeing my sponsees and my performers on the fields. I went to soccer games, football games, this past interim, and I look forward to going to basketball, and lacrosse, and squash, and hockey, and all the other ones.”


Mr. Steve loves to be involved in the community as he has been for his entire life. After leading clubs and activities while attending US, Mr. Steve returns to them, to again take part and support the community in any way he can. Mr. Steve is currently involved with the GSA, Pembroke society, the Songwriting and Composition Club, and more.


Mr. Steve says he’s “really excited to create a culture of musical expression at US that the school had, but to really be overt about it, and to give boys that outlet . . . who are in AP chemistry, and who are taking Dr. Fallon’s AP English class . . . but to also give them a chance to express themselves musically.”


“I’m glad to be back at US and to be a part of this community every day. I leave so, so exhausted, but in a good way. . . because it. . . takes a lot of energy to keep up, but it’s a good energy, and it’s a good exhaustion. It’s fulfilling my soul . . . and so I look forward to continuing to be a part of this community, finding ways that I fit in outside of the performing arts world, finding other ways to fit in and be a part of the community to help support boys, to help support the other faculty and staff, the administrators, alumni, and all other members of our community.”


University School is proud to welcome Mr. Steve to our community, and we look forward to getting to know him better throughout this year.