Monday, December 9, 2013

A musical weekend

UW-Eau Claire's Holiday Concert, Dec. 8, 2013
I've said it before, but I just have to say it again: From the moment I arrived on this campus six months ago as chancellor, I've felt that UW-Eau Claire is a special kind of place. That was punctuated (with an exclamation point!) for me over the past few days, courtesy of hundreds of our musically talented students and our outstanding music faculty. The grin on my face had not dimmed even late into Sunday evening following the weekend of music my family and I enjoyed.

Starting with the Jazz Ensemble I concert on Friday, followed by the Madrigal Dinner on Saturday and then the Holiday Concert on Sunday, I was blown away by the sheer number of our students who are involved in music in some way during their time with us. I'm told we have the largest undergraduate music program in the UW System; that we have more than 40 music ensembles and organizations that offer students the opportunity to use and share their musical talents; and that our ensembles put on more than 200 performances each year in local, regional and even international venues. Many who participate are music performance or music education majors, but many come from other academic areas across campus and make music simply for the enjoyment of it.

It is impossible to be surrounded by the sounds of our student ensembles and not have it touch your soul and bring joy to your heart. This feeling is evident during a performance and it lingers with us in the days and weeks that follow. I believe that the diffusive nature of music on our campus affects the entire student body and our university culture, and is one of the reasons that UW-Eau Claire is so special.

To our student musicians, thank you for sharing your gifts with so many — from the audiences at your concerts and recitals to the roommates and other friends here at UW-Eau Claire who benefit regularly on a more informal basis. And to our world-class music faculty: Thank you for dedication to providing our students with countless opportunities to develop their musical gifts — and to share them with the world.