In the 1970s, Leonardo Balada replaced Lopatnikoff on the composition faculty and founded the Contemporary Music Ensemble.
Robert Page, Director of Choruses and Assistant Conductor of the Cleveland Orchestra, became the Head of the Department of Music in 1975. The Department deepened its orientation toward performance with the establishment of a Baroque Ensemble and a program in Music Theatre (founded in collaboration with Larry Carra, the head of Department of Drama). An excerpt from the 1978 edition of the Thistle recounts the story:
“The dropping of music education from the curriculum of the Music Department caused much controversy. Robert Page, the Head of the Music Department announced the department needed more specialization and a choice had to be made between the performance option and the education option. The announcement was met with severe criticism from the students and a painted fence.“
Additionally, the Department of Music expanded from the College of Fine Arts Building into parts of the Margaret Morrison building in 1975. In November 1980, the Carnegie Mellon Philharmonic played the first of many concerts in Carnegie Hall, earning praise from the New York Times.