El Paso Pro-Musica and the University of Texas at El Paso have joined forces to create the Center for Arts Entrepreneurship, which launches this fall on campus. The aim of the program is to expose music students to world-class performers and arm them with the practical skills necessary to pursue a career in classical music.
“We’re really excited about it,” said the university’s music department head, Dr. Steve Wilson. “We’re bringing in some amazing guest artists to work with our students, play in ensemble with them and really interact with them on a level that’s unprecedented.”
The official launch of the center was celebrated recently with a concert featuring Pro-Musica artistic director and world-class cellist Zuill Bailey and other renowned performers.
Bailey, who also teaches at UTEP, will head up the CAE. Lauded as an innovator and visionary in the realm of classical music, Bailey also became a Grammy award winner earlier this year. His out-of-the-box thinking has landed him in various venues that are not limited to concert halls. It’s not uncommon for him to play his cello in places like coffee shops, libraries and hospitals, increasing the accessibility of live classical music.
“The successful people out there are engaging new audiences, different kinds of venues, coming up with innovative programming and incorporating different technologies into the program,” Wilson said. “No one does that better than Zuill Bailey.”
For Bailey, the mark of great leaders and innovators in the field of classical music does not solely hinge on their ability to play their instruments. Instead, these people possess a great number of diverse skills and abilities that have propelled them to the top of their game.
He pointed out some of the performers he brought in for the kick-off concert – including renowned musicians Martin Sher and Awadagin Pratt – as prime examples of these accomplished leaders and as a glimpse into the caliber of players he’s bringing into the center this fall.
“Every musician that’s brought in is at the top of their field as a musician, but they’re also incredibly multi-faceted in other things they do, and equally successful,” Bailey said.
Students will engage with the performers in a series of week-long, intensive classes at the center.
Along with Wilson, Pro-Musica executive director Felipa Solis has established relationships with accomplished musicians to bring them to the center to talk to students about resume development, creating a digital portfolio, cultivating career opportunities and how to engage different audiences. The center will focus largely on instilling real-world skills in students and developing tools to interact with and engage the community.
“The whole idea is El Paso Pro Musica and UTEP are combining forces to create a scenario of bigger, greater thought – no boundaries,” Bailey said. “[We’re] creating a multi-faceted existence for the students at the university through music and through all the inspired arts.”
Wilson said while all students are invited to participate at the center, this year, the programming is specifically geared to music majors. During subsequent years, the scope will expand to include students studying all artistic mediums.
The team is already working on future plans to develop an elective curriculum for music majors. Although the details haven’t been ironed out, classes on topics like principles of economics and marketing are on the table.
“We want to train for life in the 21st century as an artist,” Wilson said.