Friday, March 7, 2014
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The University of Southern Maine's School of Music has been and continues to be the strongest music program in the state of Maine, and its graduates have gone on to some of the nation's top graduate music schools.
Alumni play with some of the world's most renowned musicians; land roles in top-notch opera companies; win coveted full-time tenure-track positions at good universities; and maintain excellence in music education throughout Maine.
Our ability to stand out in the music world outside of USM has only been possible because of one thing: its outstanding faculty, who are active in their field internationally.
If positions continue to be cut and full-time positions replaced by part-time ones, the quality of the program will be handicapped beyond recognition. Excellence in music requires more individual instruction than almost any other field.
I earned an undergraduate degree from USM, and graduate degrees from Indiana University. I won prizes in international competitions, concertized around the world, and was a full-time tenure-track piano professor at another well-respected, strong state school music program.
I collaborate with some of the best musicians in the world and trained students who go on to be prize-winners and teachers. None of this would have been possible without being able to get a truly great music background that was also affordable.
USM and the community should take pride in the fact that its School of Music is the only place in the state to get a competitive, comprehensive music education. The School of Music should be recognized and protected as one of the strongest programs in the university, and a crucial part of greater Portland.
The arts are a valuable part of the university and the city, and it will be a sad day when Greater Portland has no such program.
I'm writing to call attention to the serious results the wide cuts to the music department at USM will have on the community.
Student musicians and those studying music as part of a liberal arts academic program suffer; as important to the community, the number of individuals and groups prepared to participate in performances throughout the Portland area will be diminished, as will performances at USM itself.
Solo recitals, choral and instrumental group offerings and the music department's participation in USM theater productions are all at risk.
I shudder to think of the precedent being set if these cuts go through. It will basically paint a target on the proverbial back of music at USM. It really could all disappear. Which would be tragic.
I recognize major cuts have been dictated and that all departments need to share in those cuts.
But, it would appear that the cuts to the music department are not only disproportional but would affect some of the most vital areas of that department.
I would hope the powers that be would carefully reconsider how they go about balancing the budget.