“Why is it important to preserve the arts? To me, that's like asking why we need air to breathe," says Raul Dominguez. "The arts are vital to human expression and therefore vital to humanity.”
Indeed, Dominguez—originally from Houston and a current choral conducting and literature doctoral student at the College of Music—is a fervent proponent of the essentiality of the arts in our lives. So when the COVID-19 pandemic hit last March, he realized he needed to do something to make arts education available to students over the summer.
With a grant from the Entrepreneurship Center for Music, Dominguez founded the Choral Conductors Colloquium, partnering with prominent conductors to offer five free Zoom lectures to learning choral musicians. “We had viewers from every continent except Antarctica," he says, further noting that participants represented more than 50 countries. “Some participants came for one or two lectures and many watched all five. For participating CU students, we were able to offer extra credit.”
Dominguez secured a webinar license from the Office of Information Technology which enabled him to direct all funding to the colloquium itself, engaging top-tier lecturers from choral programs such as St. Olaf College and the University of North Texas.
"When our own mentors foster a culture of collaboration, we students gain the ability to achieve a socially distanced connection," he adds. "That kind of access to the minds and hearts of wonderful mentors energizes me to pay it forward.”
While Dominguez hoped to offer a sense of purpose and community to student conductors who couldn’t complete their summer fellowships or internships, the 2020 colloquium was much more successful than he could have anticipated. Dominguez plans a follow-up colloquium in the same virtual format this summer: stay tuned!