Jordan College of Fine Arts
School of Music

James Q. Mulholland - Professor, Music Theory/History

Profile Mulholland

Professor of Music James Q. Mulholland joined the Butler faculty in 1964, a time when there were curfews in the girls' dormitories, a panty raid alarmed the university president enough to call out the National Guard and the faculty shared one telephone.

Policies and facilities have changed dramatically. What hasn't changed, he says, is the quality of the students.

"My compositions lead me to a lot of universities, and I have direct interaction with their students," he says. "I always come back refreshed and very proud of our students."

Mulholland grew up in southern Mississippi, his formative years spent in his mother's arms "listening to her sing beautiful songs and sitting in my father's lap, listening to him quote great minds." His first paid singing job was at 10 in a local Presbyterian church boys' choir. "I was given $2 a week," he says, "and I thought the world had opened up and smiled upon me."

"I found that I got more attention than the other kids from teachers, from girls, from people in general," he says. "And the more I practiced, the better I became. You might say I pursued it because of ego. I was more or less a shy person. When I realized I could let my music speak for me, I found I could let the bee come to the honey."

He graduated high school at 15 and started at Louisiana State University a year later. After earning a B.M. and M.M. there, Indiana University offered him a full scholarship to pursue his doctorate. In 1964, as he was finishing at IU, a job opened at Butler.

Through the years, Mulholland has earned countless awards for his work as a composer. In 1999, an evening of his work was performed at Carnegie Hall. The most recent recording of his compositions is Words & Music: The Music of James Mulholland, by the Kansas City Chorale.

"Music is my life," Mulholland says, "but the podium is my life also. I have to expound on what I love. I have to tell others what I love. I have to share with others, through my compositions, but also through my commitment to teaching. I love to get in front of a captive audience. I like to look into their eyes, to be a part of their experience."