Academic institutions can be insular places.
For students in any field of study, a university setting can be a place to learn, grow and advance. It can also be a place where the rest of the world is tuned out, intentionally or not. The University of Colorado Boulder’s College of Music is no exception, according to its Diversity and Outreach Coordinator Alexis McClain.
McClain says that College of Music students run the risk of spending nearly all their time on university grounds, interacting largely with other music students and faculty.
That’s one of the reasons why this week’s “Atlas” event—set to run Oct. 28 in the Imig Music Building’s Ensemble Hall (S134)—is so important for participating artists and audiences alike. Organized by the College of Music’s Diverse Musicians’ Alliance (DiMA), this inclusive performance is a one-of-a-kind showcase designed to spotlight a diverse approach to creativity.
“We wanted the performance to encompass different forms of art, in addition to music,” says McClain. “‘Atlas’ will feature music, instrumentals and dancing, as well as food from different cultures.” Indeed, the slate of about a dozen performers represents a mix of College of Music students, as well as outside musicians, dancers and other performers.
Adds McClain, “My biggest push for our students is that they realize there are worlds outside the walls of this building. Opening the doors to the College of Music is a big deal—students campuswide have talents that our students may not realize because they’re always here. At the same time, our students’ talents are being showcased to folks who would not normally pass through the College of Music.”
The students’ stake in the performance is also a big deal. They took ownership of every phase of the production, from identifying the theme to planning and organizing the lineup. Students found inspiration for the title in the rare and beautiful Atlas moth—a massive creature found in tropical Asia that touts a visually stunning pattern on its wings. The event lineup seeks to encapsulate its majesty and lure.
College of Music students like Ayla Lantz will have the chance to show off a skill that veers from her major as a flutist, and other performers—including artists from outside the college—will further represent a spectrum of artistic traditions, including pieces for Chinese woodwind and Indian vocals, as well as rock music, classical guitar and traditional Zimbabwean music.
“There’s nothing else like it in the College of Music—a performance that represents so many different genres and ethnic backgrounds,” says Professor of Piano Pedagogy Alejandro Cremashi, DiMA’s faculty advisor. “Most of the performances you hear at the college are by music majors. This performance provides non-music majors a space to share their talents and what they do, too.”
In that sense, “Atlas” is a means to break down barriers in academic settings, allowing diversity to flourish at the same time.