This issue of the Quarter Note goes to the very heart of what we do at the Blair School, and why we exist: our students. In these pages, we will focus on the critical moments in the lives of Blair students, from their auditions for admission to their professional lives after graduation. You will also learn why we emphasize chamber music in our undergraduate curriculum, and how that emphasis contributes to greater musicianship generally, and to the training of seasoned professionals. In addition, you will learn about one example of what makes life at the Blair School quite special: the opportunities for our students to encounter intensive experiences that are rarely found at other institutions. In this case, that experience will be the performances and seminars around the music of John Cage, whose centenary is being observed this year, with choreography from former dancers in the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, which is being disbanded following Cunningham’s death. It is a wonderful opportunity for our students and audiences to witness a fusion of music and dance that is already both historical and contemporary.
In all these activities, our primary focus is on students—preparing them for lives in music, whether as professionals or as amateurs in the best, literal sense of that term. It is affirming to see that Blair training and a Vanderbilt education have served both types of students well. The breadth of education is important. As you may know, the Blair School is one of the few schools of music where students are encouraged (by their dean, anyway) to pursue a double major. I like to say that they have the best of two worlds at Blair: the intensity of conservatory training and the breadth of a superb liberal arts education. As you will see in these pages, that combination has served alumni Bzur Haun and Jonathan Chu very well.
Ultimately, of course, a focus on students is really about the future: preparing the artists, scholars, and composers of the mid-21st century, and therefore creating still-evolving art forms. That is an exciting and noble mission, one that we at Blair embrace with enthusiasm and fervor.
Mark Wait, Dean and Professor
Martha Rivers Ingram Dean’s Chair