Art & CultureStudent Life

Music department offers a unique experience on campus as it readies for concert season

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by Victoria Ruiz

Music majors at Colorado State University- Pueblo never miss a beat. The 2017 spring concert season is in full swing now and for music majors this means serious time-commitment.

Gerad Ortiz, a sophomore music education, bassoon and jazz guitar major said students spend “so much time” developing their skills in order to be performance ready. “It’s super common for (students) to be (on campus) at nine in the morning and leave at six,” said Ortiz.

The concept of time commitment doesn’t escape professors, in fact department chair David Volk, Ph.D., seemed to be all too aware of it. He wants incoming students to expect to be busy. “What we do takes time,” said Volk.

Students who are music majors tend to be involved with more than one ensemble at a time. Ortiz mentioned that freshman have a higher tendency to “get sucked in” to playing with more than one group or instrument. He also emphasized that professors may sometimes step in and warn students not to bite off more than they can chew. This is their way of mentoring students so as to prevent them from becoming overwhelmed.

To Volk, this multi-instrument, multi-performance aspect of being a student is a benefit of the type of environment the music department has established. “I say this a lot, (CSU-Pueblo hit) a sweet spot in terms of size,” said Volk.

In his opinion, CSU-Pueblo is large enough to have various opportunities for students but small enough that students are less likely to be turned away from multiple creative outlets. Volk said, “(There are) more opportunities for students who want to do a lot of things.”

Students, as Ortiz mentioned, tend to take advantage of as many ensembles as they can. This creates a unique intermingling of students that is hard to find anywhere else. For example, as Volk put it, many band students also sing with the choir. Volk called it, “A singular community of musicians.”

This community often extends past the boundaries of the university. For instance, the Festival of the Winds is a recruiting opportunity where the CSU-Pueblo music department opens its doors to local high school bands. The Festival of the Winds begins February 20 to the 25.

“There are a lot of really good concerts and recitals coming up,” said Ortiz. According to the CSU-Pueblo Department of Music Calendar of Events for 2016-2017, there are eight events taking place in March. Among those are the CSU-Pueblo Choir and Pueblo Choral Society Concert happening March 4 and a concert by the Pueblo Symphony Association on March 11.

The university’s relationship with the Pueblo Symphony is part of a continued effort to create a professional outlet for professors in the music department. Volk believes this relationship combined with other faculty ensembles will motivate professors and allow them to “enjoy professional opportunities.”

Since Volk joined the CSU-Pueblo faculty in 2013, many of the programs, such as faculty ensembles, have seen growth. One area that the music department still struggles with though, is publicity. As Volk put it, many students and faculty in the music department are not the best at “tooting their own horn.”

To Volk, this makes sense since the music department has a tendency to remain isolated from the rest of the student body. “Our front door faces away from campus,” he laughed.

Ortiz who is involved in four ensembles himself understands that although some concerts are “stupid good,” most performers don’t expect a full house.

For more information about the CSU-Pueblo music department visit www.csupueblo.edu/music.