The Claire Trevor School of the Arts named David Brodbeck chair of the music department in August 2004. Brodbeck is an acclaimed Brahms scholar and musicologist, and the first professor in UC Irvine’s music department to specialize in ethnomusicology, the comparative study of music from different cultures. Despite budget cuts to various departments on campus, the music department has been able to run successfully because of other sources of funding.
‘A good amount of our funding comes from benefactors like Robert and Marjorie Rawlins, who provide the school with scholarships to students engaged in piano and the strings,’ Brodbeck said. ‘Winifred Smith is another major donor who provided the school with a refurbished Winifred Smith Hall.’
Students have commented on difficulties, in terms of interest, that the School of the Arts has faced in the past, but are optimistic for the future.
‘Interest in classical music, jazz, et cetera in general is starting to degrade but the main difficulty is trying to hire prestigious professionals to teach part-time or full-time classes that would entice students to attend UCI,’ said fifth-year violin and viola performance major, Landon Yaple.
Brodbeck said that with the upcoming state budget for next year, the music department will be able to hire more faculty for the upcoming years.
‘Through the endowment of the new Center of Persian Studies and Culture, the music department will hire an ethnomusicologist,’ Brodbeck said. ‘Also, within the course of a few years more faculty members will be added for other areas of interest within music.’
Nohema Fernandez, dean of the Claire Trevor School of the Arts, is also optimistic for the future of the music department.
‘The music department is really poised to make a giant leap forward with the appointment of David Brodbeck and the new faculty. There is a sense of infectious excitement among the faculty and students,’ Fernandez said. ‘A few years ago the department faced difficulty but the music department has revived its spirit.’
Fernandez is also hopeful that the construction of the Maya Lin Arts Plaza will attract more interest to the School of the Arts.
‘The strength of the music department is due to the support and interest of our other departments, which include dance, drama and studio art,’ Fernandez said. ‘With the construction of the Arts Plaza the general public will become more aware of what the Claire Trevor School of the Arts has to offer. There is definitely a brighter future for the school.’
About 20 students graduate every year from the music department and many go onto prestigious graduate schools. Many students seek careers in music performance and others go into the field of teaching. Brodbeck’s vision is to make music a bigger presence at UCI by offering more courses to nonmajors.
Mabet Yonamine, second-year biological sciences major, hopes that more courses will be offered to non-arts majors.
‘I’m not a music major, but I took the ‘History of Jazz’ course last year, and I would definitely be interested if the school offered more courses for nonmajors,’ Yonamine said.
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