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From the Dean

Posted by on Tuesday, August 31, 2010 in Fall 2010, From the Dean.

Dean Mark Wait

Next year, the Blair School will observe the 25th anniversary of the inception of its collegiate program leading to the bachelor of music degree. Among music schools, that is relatively young, and such youth carries a number of advantages.

To begin with, one can readily measure a young school’s progress, for much of it occurred while current faculty members were there. Indeed, it is those very faculty members who are responsible for this progress and for the quality we have achieved.

This is particularly true of Blair’s voice program, which is featured in this issue of the Quarter Note. In recent years, this program and department have enjoyed dramatic progress and success. There are many reasons for this success, but let me cite one especially.

From the time Professor Jonathan Retzlaff came to Vanderbilt in 1997 as chair of the voice department, he was determined to raise the standards of the department (and, by extension, at the Blair School) by accepting only those students who were highly qualified. He was not concerned with meeting any arbitrary enrollment quota. Rather, he rightly saw that the department could make progress only if it adhered to the highest standards. As a result, the voice program at Blair immediately saw dramatic improvement in its voice students, and with the inspired teaching of the voice faculty, those students attained remarkable achievements during their four years at Vanderbilt. They have been accepted into many of the finest graduate programs in the nation.

It was only two years after Professor Retzlaff joined the Blair School that another important milestone in our history was achieved: the construction of our expanded facilities, including the magnificent Martha Rivers Ingram Center for the Performing Arts, whose 10th anniversary we celebrate this year. These improvements—one academic, one physical—have enabled Blair to present such fully staged operas as The Marriage of Figaro and The Magic Flute, and to achieve a higher level of quality that benefits our students and the entire community.

Mark Wait, Dean
Martha Rivers Ingram Dean’s Chair

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