[Photo: In our newly expanded Imig Music Building, Associate Professor of Collaborative Piano Alexandra Nguyen and Dean John Davis converse.]
At the College of Music, we’re working to ignite innovation in our programs and activities to attract and retain the next generation of artists and audiences. But for such innovation to thrive, we must also create a culture that’s inclusive and welcoming of diverse influences, perspectives and experiences.
I’m proud of the college’s heartfelt commitment and intentional focus on Diversity, Equity + Inclusion (DEI), including an endowed fund for immediate, flexible support of DEI initiatives at the College of Music and a newly established endowed fund to foster DEI specifically through our American Music Research Center (AMRC). Additionally, we recently established a DEI scholarship funding program that directly benefits diverse students for the duration of their time at CU. Such supports are often the deciding factor for diverse applicants in choosing CU Boulder’s Silver + Gold over other top music programs across the country.
As Thanksgiving approaches, we have so much to be grateful for—a new, award-winning home and progress toward developing universal musicians through enhanced education. But without a deeply embedded culture of belonging that encourages dialogue and reflective listening, and that inspires our students, faculty, staff and greater community beyond our comfort zones, there’s little hope of sustaining our momentum toward shaping the future of artistry.
The good news is that we have a strong foundation for DEI work and we’re seeing progress in programs like our Diverse Musicians’ Alliance where our students and staff are working together to empower underrepresented artists. Our faculty are stepping up, too. I’m stunned by how much has changed within our curriculum and repertoire, representing many more diverse composers and arrangers. There is so much repertoire to explore that we’ve never heard before on campus, but we’re hearing it now—in our solo repertoire, our chamber music repertoire, and our ensembles of all sizes and genres. Almost every College of Music concert, symposium and presentation emphasizes diverse music, and our theory and ear training curricula now include the different tonalities and rhythms of musics from all parts of the globe.
This week, the CU Philharmonia Orchestra performed Jessica Mays’ “Anthem for Go,” and earlier this month, our Roser Piano + Keyboard Program hosted a master class and two guest lectures as part of a doctoral seminar on diverse piano literature. In October, our Entrepreneurship Center for Music hosted an evening with the Boston Public Quartet that included a student-led discussion of DEI in the chamber music world, followed by a concert of works by BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and other People of Color) composers Jessie Montgomery, Florence Beatrice Price and Jeraldine Herbison. Additionally, the AMRC recently brought together leading scholars in American music studies to explore how borders—whether geographic, political, social, sonic, performative or temporal—impact music making. Another recent AMRC event—a public talk by Dr. Xóchitl C. Chávez—highlighted the social and cultural realities of migrant community-based brass bands from Oaxaca, Mexico. Meanwhile, among many other College of Music DEI happenings, including our upcoming Annual Distinguished Lectureship in Diversity, the AMRC’s Soundscapes Project continues its work to document, preserve and engage diverse musical and cultural influences in and around Pueblo, Colorado.
Yet we recognize that there’s more work—more positive disruption—ahead of us before we can claim ubiquitous inclusivity in our college’s culture, classrooms and curricula. Achieving DEI isn’t a fast fix or a quick win. It’s an ongoing effort that requires both big and small steps over time. It’s work that my colleagues and I have dedicated ourselves to. And it’s a transformative movement for greater student success that I’m incredibly thankful to be a part of.
Enjoy Fall break!