Indiana University       Research & Creative Activity      April 2001 • Volume XXIV, Number 1


The Indiana University School of Music at Bloomington houses a world renowned faculty, numerous students who make their marks in the musical world, and fantastic facilities that produce more than 1,000 operas, concerts, and recitals every school year. It is a center for musical experience that cannot be compared to any university setting in the world. Having recently celebrated the fifty-year anniversary of the IU Opera Theater, the seventy-fifth birthday of Distinguished Professor Janos Starker, and the turn of the century, it seems fitting to ask: What drives the IU School of Music forward?

The early central vision of opera for the “masses” held by beloved leaders Herman B Wells and Wilfred C. Bain was certainly one way to build a great music school. Bain needed to put together a stellar vocal faculty, experienced conductors, a strong choral department, brilliant orchestras that could play Wagner and Berg with equal facility, a corps de ballet, and professional-level production teams of scenic, costume, and lighting designers. But Bain didn’t stop there. The instrumental, composition, and piano faculties grew to be legendary. Students were inspired by studying with some of the great artists, and there were many opportunities to see those artists perform.

Charles Webb, dean of the School of Music from 1973 to 1997, brought the school to new heights with the residency of Leonard Bernstein and tours to Tanglewood, the Kennedy Center, the Metropolitan Opera, and the Opera Bastille in France. Distinguished artists continued to be added to the faculty. New venues dedicated to higher music education—Ford Hall, Auer Hall, and the William and Gayle Cook Library—were added.

Yet, the question remains: What continues to drive the IU School of Music forward? The answer, I believe, is that the School of Music has found a way to honor the past as it looks to the future. Great artist-teachers on the School of Music faculty have mentored students and produced a new generation of artist-teachers at IU and throughout the world.

Although departments within the school are strong individually, it is the spirit of collaboration that synergistically energizes and revitalizes the school. This has always been true in the Opera Theater, where the departments of voice, instrumental, choral, ballet, and technical production mingle. But other departments throughout the school interact as well, including choral and ballet, composition and applied instrumental, jazz and dance, early music and opera. Collaborative projects such as new operas or the 2000 Summer Festival may seem daring, but they are a catalyst for artistic growth.

Mark Ross Clark is associate professor of music and opera production adn stage director at Indiana University Bloomington.
Photo © Tyagan Miller

Has the IU School of Music flourished despite its geographical location, or because of it? Regardless of the location of the campus, I believe that what spreads the word about an institution is the student. The IU School of Music may be enormous and the number of its activities staggering, but the mentoring spirit remains strong, nurturing, and challenging: Students sing major roles in double-cast main-stage performances supported by the highest standards of production. Instrumentalists play under the direction of Imre Palló, David Effron, Thomas Baldner, or Paul Biss, as well as Kurt Masur and many other well-known conductors. The Choral Department presents Bach’s B Minor Mass while ballet majors take the stage to dance The Nutcracker with visiting artists Julie Kent and José Carreño. Members of Pro Arte and the Early Music Institute record under the direction of Paul Hillier, and the composition faculty hosts national symposia and presents numerous student composition concerts. Ray Cramer takes the band on a tour of Japan; David Baker continues his popular Monday evening jazz series. There are solo concerti competitions, the International Harp Competition, and the list goes on and on.

All of these activities drive the school forward. They represent a collective student experience fostered by a faculty and staff who are proud of the IU School of Music. We dwell on the fact that it is inspiring for the IU music student to be mentored by great artists, but the fact is, music faculty are inspired by their students. The passion of young artists demands vision from the teacher. The needs of students help artist-teachers define their own feelings about their art and nourish their own artistic passions. It is this passion that drives the IU School of Music forward, into the twenty-first century.

—Mark Ross Clark

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