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Hitting the high note


By Kristine Breese

Published Jan 1, 2007 8:00 AM

A $30 million gift from Herb Alpert begins a new era of music at UCLA

Herb Alpert - music legend, trumpeter and
co-founder of A&M Records - with students
of the new UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music

UCLA boasts a long tradition of being non-traditional. While most programs in the U.S. were focused on teaching western classical music to their students in the early 1960s, UCLA pioneered the approach of global music studies by offering courses in the music of India, the Middle East, Asia, Latin America and Africa. In tandem with teaching a universal understanding of the world's music, UCLA faculty mentored students about the fundamental physical and mental requirements necessary to meet the rigorous demands of a successful concert career. To further prepare students to compete in the scholarly and performance worlds, they also shared their experience in cultivating connections and networking in their chosen fields.

This approach resonated with entrepreneur, musician and philanthropist Herb Alpert who has long supported the concept of a holistic environment for artists. His gift of a $30 million endowment for the naming of the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music reconfirms that UCLA is in the vanguard of innovative music education.

Alpert's support is the largest arts gift in the history of the UC system and the largest single gift to music higher education in Southern California. "Music is a powerful force, and sharing music between people and cultures has the power to change the world," the celebrated trumpeter and co-founder of A&M Records explains. "The world today is smaller but also more complicated than ever before, and students engaged in the study and performance of music can be ambassadors for a new education paradigm."

"UCLA has been teaching music for [almost] 100 years, since its beginnings on the Vermont Avenue campus," adds Christopher Waterman, dean of UCLA Arts. "UCLA played a leadership role in being one of the first to offer students the opportunity to study and perform world music. Today, as we near the end of the first decade of the new century, our commitment to creating a more progressive, diverse and inclusive approach to music education is laying the groundwork for the next 100 years of music at UCLA."

Timothy Rice, most recently associate dean for Research and Academic Affairs at the UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture, and prior to that chair of the Department of Ethnomusicology, has been named the school’s first director. His job is to realize the expansive concept of a "School of Music for the 21st Century," turning his belief that the new school "is as much about an idea as it is about a place" into programs, course offerings, scholarships, and new interdisciplinary majors.

The new school will align three renowned departments, Ethnomusicology, Music and Musicology, and create "a holistic approach to training all students—no matter their major—as creators, performers, artists, activists, scholars, and professionals," according to Rice. "The school's forward-looking curriculum will combine musical diversity, interdisciplinary studies, liberal arts values, and professional training in a way that takes advantage of its position within a great research university."

"Herb Alpert has excelled as a performer, a producer, an entrepreneur, an artist, and a philanthropist," concludes Dean Waterman. "In this sense he is a perfect model for what we hope our students will achieve in their careers. It is particularly meaningful that this major gift to name the School of Music comes from such a Renaissance man."



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