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Professor Kirk Sanger is the 2023-24 recipient of Music Department's distinguished alumni award

Story By:
Paul Miller | Director of Strategic Communications and Community Relations
Kirk Sanger

The Keene State College Music Department is proud to announce that the 2023-24 recipient of the KSC Music Department Distinguished Alumni Award is Professor Kirk Sanger ’97 of the College’s Nursing Department.

An associate professor of nursing at Keene State and lecturer in music at Greenfield Community College, Professor Sanger is recognized for outstanding contributions to the fields of music, nursing, and education.

He holds degrees in counseling psychology from Keene State, modern American music from the Longy School of Music in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and nursing from UMass-Amherst. Also, he holds a PhD in nursing from UMass-Amherst.

The KSC Music Department Distinguished Alumni Award is presented each year to an individual who, in the opinion of the College’s music faculty, has a distinguished career as a musician, music educator, or representative of Keene State College alumni.

“There are many successful music alumni who deserve our recognition, and the award serves to develop closer relationships with past graduates,” says Joe Darby, professor of music at Keene State.

Heidi Welch, an award-winning music educator and former recipient of the NH Teacher of the Year Award, and KSC Music Professor Ted Mann, an award-winning composer, performer, and music historian, are among some of the more recent honorees of this award.

After receiving his psychology degree, Professor Sanger returned to Keene State to pursue graduate and undergraduate studies in music education and distinguished himself as a fine musician, scholar, and educator. During his music studies, he was an active performer in Keene State’s music program, often featured in the KSC Jazz Ensemble, KSC Orchestra, and various chamber music ensembles. In addition, he enjoyed a freelance career as a double bassist in the region alongside Professor Emeritus Don Baldini.

These experiences inspired Professor Sanger to pursue graduate school music studies at the prestigious Longy School of Music, where he specialized in composition, improvisation, and modern double bass performance. He has studied double bass performance with Pascale Delache-Feldman, John Lockwood, and Don Baldini; Indian Carnatic music with the guitarist Prasanna; and jazz improvisation with George Garzone, Charlie Kohlase, and Charlie Banacos.

As his music career developed, Professor Sanger decided to enter the nursing profession.

He is active in service to the College and community and is a nurse at a local department of corrections. He was a campus leader on Keene State’s COVID-19 Response Team, which helped students, staff, and faculty remain safe, healthy, and informed during the pandemic.

Along with his career in nursing and education, Professor Sanger continues to teach bass and improvisation privately, freelance as a bassist regionally, and perform in the jazz/folk duo Swing Caravan.

He lives in Northampton, Massachusetts, with his wife, Karyn, and their three children, one of whom is a first-year student at Keene State.

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