“As with anything in life, it’s important to remember that the road to success is rarely a straight line,” says Reuben Kebede (AD ’22), one of this year’s Honors Competition winners. “Things are likely to work out in your favor eventually if you put in the work.”
Indeed, as February sprints to a close and the Front Range endures an arctic chill, I’m warmed and energized by our students’ successes and the steady, stunning progress of our College of Music as a top-tier music program—thanks to the hard work of every one of us, together, transcending the effects of pandemic burnout and other realities that would throw us off course.
On Sunday afternoon in Grusin Hall, Kebede—who’s also a violinist with the Ivalas Quartet, the college’s Graduate String Quartet in Residence—performed Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s Violin Concerto in G minor, Op. 80, accompanied by pianist Madoka Asari, in a winning performance; flutist Courtney Badura (BM ’23) is our undergraduate Honors Competition winner, and cellist Matthew Wiest and mezzo soprano Gabrielle Razafinjatovo earned honorable mentions.
Our faculty members are equally ambitious for quality during this pivotal time at our college, in our community and in our world. Where there’s angst, our faculty offer anchorage through their teaching excellence, and their wonderfully consistent artistic achievements as performers, composers and researchers.
Just this week, I was thrilled to learn that the Boulder Faculty Assembly (BFA)—the representative body of the faculty in the shared governance of the CU Boulder campus—has named Susan Thomas a 2022 BFA Excellence Award Winner in the Leadership + Service category. Thomas is our college’s newly appointed Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity + Inclusion—as well as director of our American Music Research Center and professor of musicology—and I’m so pleased that the impact of her hard work has been recognized by our broader campus community. An honor for her, and an honor for the college.
Meanwhile, in our shared commitment to inclusive excellence, I’m delighted to announce that Alex Gonzalez will join our violin faculty this fall. In a competitive process that resulted in several strong finalists, members of our faculty search committee—co-chairs Margaret McDonald and Chas Wetherbee, as well as Christina Jennings, Gary Lewis and David Requiro—were unanimous in their selection, which also included input from our string faculty and feedback from students.
As McDonald puts it, “Alex is an extremely open and generous person. His performance was engaging and heartfelt. His master class achieved immediate results and sparked ideas in the students that could help them continue to grow. He brings many new, fresh ideas to the college.
“Alex will not only have a great influence on the violin studio and string department, but also the entire College of Music and the surrounding community.”
I’m especially impressed by how Gonzalez models the way of the universal musician. Coequally experienced as a teaching artist, and as a virtuoso performing and recording artist, he can’t be pigeonholed into just one professional track. In sum, Gonzalez’s genuine likeability and broad background as an award-winning chamber musician, ensemble leader, soloist and educator—across the country and internationally—are a perfect fit for us.
“I am so happy to have found a home at the CU Boulder College of Music,” Gonzalez tells us. “I’m excited to be able to contribute to a community that values collaboration, curiosity and artistic excellence above all else.”
We’re excited, too!