It’s the onset of another academic year, and the state of music at CU Boulder is strong.
In a speech last week before students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends, Dean Robert Shay called attention to recent faculty, student and alumni accomplishments and addressed the status and next steps of the college’s 10-year strategic plan.
“Our faculty members remain active as performers, composers, pedagogues and scholars,” Shay said. “Our students uphold a commitment to musical and academic excellence, finding success after graduation as performing musicians, educators, researchers, entrepreneurs and, in some cases, by applying the skills and knowledge attained through music study to other fields.”
After reviving Henry Purcell trivia, the icebreaker that kicked off last year’s State of the College address, Shay introduced new faculty member Benjamin Teitelbaum to the audience. Teitelbaum has taught a handful of classes at the college over the past several years in his capacity as director of Nordic studies in the College of Arts and Sciences and now joins the musicology department as an assistant professor of ethnomusicology.
Teitelbaum, whose research has taken him to the Scandinavian countries of Europe to explore the role of music in the rise of radical nationalism in that region, told the audience of mostly first-year students about the power of music to shape political movements.
“Music and its impact are all around us,” said Teitelbaum. “As an ethnomusicologist, my focus is on the study of music as culture.”
In addition to teaching, Teitelbaum is also the new coordinator of non-major studies at the college.
The dean closed the convocation with an update on the strategic plan, dubbed the “College of Music Advantage.” The plan, he said, is already in motion, as is evident by recent visits by opera titans Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer and members of the Cleveland Orchestra.
“These kinds of experiences—complementing the outstanding training our faculty provides on a week-to-week basis—inspire our students and give them new insights.”
Shay left those in attendance with a call for excellence ahead of the college’s 2020 centennial and with words by a familiar modern composer—one who’s known for pushing musical boundaries.
“As we depart today, I ask you to join me in reflecting on our possibilities and dreaming big. As the composer John Cage once said, ‘I can’t understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I’m frightened of the old ones.’”
Dean Shay will share more about the “College of Music Advantage” before the first Symphony Orchestra concert of the year on Friday, Sept. 23.