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1999 School of Music grad

Award-Winning Music Educator


Cullen McCarthy, '99 School of Music alum is Director of Bands at North Rockford Middle School in Rockford, Michigan.  McCarthy teaches Sixth Grade Beginning Band, Concert Band and Symphonic Band.  McCarthy also directs the Rockford High School Jazz Band, instructs a private saxophone studio and serves as Director of the St. Cecilia Music Society's Honors Concert Band in Grand Rapids.

Under McCarthy's direction, North Rockford Middle School Bands have received superior ratings at District and State Band Festivals and been invited to perform at the 2005, 2008, 2013 and 2017 Michigan Music Conference.  In 2013, McCarthy was nominated for the GRAMMY Music Educator Award and in 2014 he was the recipient of the Rockford Pubic Schools Outstanding Employee of the Year Award.

Sharing his talents as a music educator, McCarthy adjudicates at MSBOA band festivals across Michigan and spends his summers writing drill for high school marching bands. McCarthy was a Blue Lakes Fine Arts Camp faculty member, a Middle School Band Conductor at Calvin College's Knollcrest Summer Music Camp, and a Guest Conductor/Clinician for the Newaygo County Community Schools Honors Band and the 2008 Cobb County Symphonic Band Camp in Atlanta, Georgia.

While at CMU McCarthy was a member of Phi Mu Alpha Professional Music Fraternity. Under the direction of Professor Jack Saunders he served as Assistant Drum Major of the Marching Chips from 1995-96 and Head Drum Major from 1997-98.  As part of Professor John Nichol's saxophone studio, McCarthy performed in Jazz Lab I from 1996-99 and toured Europe with the group in 1997, under the direction of Professor Jack Saunders.

Since graduation, McCarthy continues to be active with his alma mater. In addition to preparing music students for possible study at CMU, McCarthy collaborated with Professor John Nichol and Professor John Williamson, CMU Director of Bands, for the North Rockford Middle School Symphonic Band's 2013 DeVos Hall performance at the Michigan Music Conference.  McCarthy was also Director of the CMU Drum Major Clinic from 1997 to 2007 and has brought his jazz band to perform and successfully place in Jazz Weekend competitions.​