BY ELISABETH ANDREWS
Certain names are perennially associated with Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music, such as pianists Menahem Pressler and Andre Watts, organist Charles Webb, violinist Joshua Bell, conductor Leonard Slatkin, ballerina Violette Verdy, opera diva Sylvia McNair, and cellist Janos Starker.
The school is known for counting such eminent, accomplished performers and teachers among its faculty, a reputation that has helped Jacobs maintain its long-held prominence as one of the finest schools of music in the world.
It would be wrong to conclude, however, that little has changed within this century-old institution. In the past ten years, Jacobs has added 50 new faculty members, many of whom are implementing transformative programs within the school.
This year, for example, the acclaimed Pacifica Quartet became the school’s quartet-in-residence, introducing a new tradition of organizing Jacobs string students into chamber ensembles. Choral conductor and composer Dominick DiOrio, just 28 years old, also joined the faculty this year, bringing a fresh perspective and repertoire to the school’s Contemporary Vocal Ensemble. Aaron Travers, who joined the composition faculty in 2009, steers his students toward collaboration with other artists in and beyond the music field.
Jacobs professors are also beginning to look outward to find ways in which music can influence other pursuits, from academic achievement to athletic performance. Brenda Brenner, who recently accepted a new post in music education, uses the violin as a vehicle to engage schoolchildren with math and language arts. Horn professor Jeff Nelsen, who came to the school in 2006, has developed a music-inspired methodology for overcoming fears.
Be sure to check out our YouTube playlist of the musicians mentioned! To begin our playlist, here is a video of Dominick DiOrio conducting the third movement of his composition “A Dome of Many-Coloured Glass.”