Friday, September 22

Gift unites music disciplines


$30 million donation from Herb Alpert helps form new school out of three departments

The three music-related departments ““ ethnomusicology, music and musicology ““ will unite to form the Herb Alpert School of Music, aided by a $30 million gift received Friday from the Herb Alpert Foundation.

Currently, the school does not have specific plans for the money, except to use it to fund scholarships and reinforce general objectives such as providing a wider variety of scholarships, subsidizing student endeavors outside of the classroom ““ such as performances in New York or field trips to study in Europe ““ assessing technological needs, and providing new, innovative and interdisciplinary curricula.

These new facets to the music program, made possible by the fund, are expected to draw more students.

“The school will be attracting students wanting to take advantage of the new interdisciplinary measures,” said Timothy Rice, director of the Herb Alpert School of Music. “Students who love popular music will be attracted to this new school.”

The chairs of the three departments in the school, along with Rice, will form an executive committee to guide the school during its fledgling years. Another group of committees from each department will devise the new core undergraduate curriculum.

“People are getting over the old way of doing it,” said Roger Bourland, chair of the music department. “The days where it was thought that classical music was the only music worth teaching are just over. Lots of change is in the air.”

Prior to 1989, all music-related classes and majors were part of the music department. Then, over the course of that year, it branched into the three departments that UCLA has today.

“It made sense at the time,” Bourland said. “It was not a bad choice. What was missing was the glue between them. The synergy between the three evaporated. They operated in a vacuum.”

The donation earlier this month brought about the new, evolved version of the music program at UCLA. The three departments will still act individually, but a core curriculum will provide the glue and synergy.

“The new school will let them have autonomy as separate departments,” Bourland said. “But it will connect them by building bridges between the departments.”

A part of the new core curriculum may include courses in business management, producing and communicating with record companies.

“I was hoping UCLA would put more resources toward other realms of music like music management, music business and music in the public realm,” said Zach Meyerowitz, a first-year jazz studies student. “I’m really glad to see they’re doing this.”

The school’s music business and management programs are set to benefit from the school’s location.

“One of the things we aim to do is realize we’re in L.A., with pop culture and the movie industry,” Bourland said. “Why not take advantage of that fact?”

While the school will absorb bits of Los Angeles’ musical culture, there is a sense of repayment.

“What we really want to do is make sure our students and our school are connected with the city of L.A. so that we’re serving the people of L.A. on every level,” Rice said. “That’s going to be a fun part of the challenge.”

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