Through a partnership with the Civic Music Association, Drake will host various vocal and instrumental performers monthly throughout the school year. These concerts are part of a wider web of partnerships that the Civic Music Association set up with various organizations in Des Moines.
A clinic or masterclass session will be available after each of the seven concerts, allowing Drake students to learn from renowned global artists. This fulfills the CMA’s educational mission.
Many students continue to talk about how in January of 2011, Drake’s jazz students had a chance to work with tenor saxophone titan Chris Potter from Chris Potter’s Underground, said chair of the Drake Department of Music Dr. James Romain.
“CMA provides concerts, educational opportunities and work experience for our Drake students that they cannot get elsewhere,” Romain said. “There is simply no replacement for music students hearing live music being performed at the highest artistic level. No recording can fully capture the energy that was present on that stage.”
Both Executive Director of CMA Brian Coyle and Romain wanted this concert series to be an educational opportunity. Coyle said the masterclasses will be highly technical and help artists grow in their musical ability but will also be an opportunity for studying musicians to hang out and learn about their craft from somebody already in the industry.
CMA thinks long and hard about which performers they pick to perform because they want to make certain their musicians are making a difference, according to Coyle.
“We are very particular about the artist coming in because the educational aspect is so important,” Coyle said. “We carefully select the artist we bring in, so they can reach out to their community. I am grateful for the deep partnership that Drake has with the Civic Music Association. We can help students by working on their craft and their artistry.”
Students majoring in music with elective studies in business are required to complete a 150-hour capstone internship with CMA. This internship allows students to work hand in hand with a concert presentation organization.
“CMA’s internships have benefitted numerous Drake students who’ve gained exposure and invaluable experience with all facets of running a concert presentation organization, as well as the unique experiences of working for a non-profit organization,” Romain said.
Civic Music Association reaches out to Des Moines
Coyle began his position as executive director of CMA seven months ago and has been working to increase its community engagement since. Immediately after starting the job, he got in contact with Drake faculty and other local organizations to set up opportunities for public outreach.
Coyle said his mission is for CMA to be easily accessible. He also wants CMA to make a difference in the Des Moines community, which is why the association is partnering with organizations like DART and the Boys and Girls Club of Central Iowa.
Efforts are being made to promote further access to food and essential supplies in the community. Concert attendees are being asked to donate non-perishable food, health and hygiene products or school supplies this concert season. Collection bins will be in the lobby of Sheslow Auditorium at every CMA and Drake University Music Department concert, and all donations will go to the Gregory & Suzie Glazer Burt Club food pantry.
In addition, CMA is partnering with DART to help provide free transportation to their concerts and other events for those who wouldn’t be able to come otherwise. Patrons will receive a time and route-limited QR code or ticket, which allows them transportation to various Civic Music Association events. According to Coyle, the purpose of these partnerships is to truly make a difference with music.
“For me, it is about access. Everyone should have the opportunity to interact with great art, so we are working really hard to get everyone to come,” Coyle said. “Music can touch you in a very tangible way.”
The Value of Music for Drake Students
Dr. Romain wants to encourage all students to come to the Civic Music Association’s concerts because the artists performing are renowned at an national and international level, and it’s all happening right on campus. Additionally, he believes exposure to genres students aren’t typically exposed to, like jazz and classical, can help feed their heart and souls.
“Humans cannot live without art, or at least not in any meaningful way,”. Romain said. “Direct engagement with art and artists brings not only short-term significant pleasures, but helps to create beings who have empathy and are connected with their deepest human emotions.”