Indiana University Jacobs School of Music: A Legendary School
by Andrew Lunsford
“I have always felt that the Indiana University School of Music was one of the finest schools in the world.”— Beverly Sills
The Indiana University School of Music (now named “Jacobs School of Music” or “JSOM”) is indeed one of the finest music schools in the world. It boasts world-renowned faculty, world-class facilities, and cutting edge live streaming capabilities. With an unwavering commitment to excellence it has secured its place and reputation as one of the greatest music schools in the world.
The School of Music currently trains students from all 50 states and over 55 countries who study in a conservatory atmosphere with full-time faculty members who are among the best performers and educators in the world.
It is now one of the largest music schools in the world. But this was not always the case. The School of Music had very humble origins. The School was born in 1921 when the Indiana University Department of Music officially became the School of Music, and in 1938, the School was admitted to full membership in the National Association of Schools of Music.
In 1942 IU staged its first full Opera: “Cavalleria Rusticana”. In that same year the Metropolitan Opera Company visited IU for the first time and performed Verdi’s grand opera, “Aida”. The Met returned in 1946, and would continue to return for the next 15 years, presenting 2 operas per year. In 1981 IU Opera Theater was invited to perform at the Metropolitan Opera (The IU School of Music’s Opera Theater is the only university opera to be invited to perform at the Metropolitan Opera), and now the School of Music offers over 1100 performances a year, including 7 fully staged operas.
Part of what makes JSOM so unique is its world-class faculty and facilities. With the belief that the essence of a great music school is its faculty, the school employs 170 full time faculty members in residence including performers, scholars, and a long list of teachers of international renown.
JSOM’s facilities truly are some of the finest anywhere. These include five buildings located in the heart of the IU Bloomington campus, comprised of outstanding recital halls, more than 170 practice rooms, choral and instrumental rehearsal rooms, and more than 100 offices and studios. In 2003, Steinway Company said IU Bloomington has the single greatest gathering of Steinway pianos in the world. However the crowning jewel of JSOM is the Musical Arts Center, known as the MAC.
The MAC is the School of Music’s Opera House and premier performance facility. It is a four-story rectangular structure of concrete, 213 feet by 280 feet, with a volume of 4.4 million cubic feet and 192,000 square feet of floor space. It features acoustical design and technical capabilities that are among the best in the nation. The backstage area occupies more than half of the building and provides state-of-the-art technical space for producing 7 fully staged operas a year. The house has European-style seating for 1460, and the pit accommodates a 100-piece orchestra. The stage of the MAC is often compared to that of the Metropolitan Opera. It is 90 feet wide by 60 feet deep, however it can open up to a performance area of 120 feet deep which is surpassed among American Theatres only by the Met’s 146 feet. The MAC is also home to the School of Music Department of Ballet.
The School is also at the forefront of the world of Opera, producing commissioned works and world premiers such as “Our Town” by Ned Rorem, and “Vincent” by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Bernard Rand. “Vincent” is based on the life of painter Vincent Van Gogh and it’s world premiere is scheduled for April of 2011.
JSOM’s voice majors all vie for the opportunities that a school of this size provides. Even though IU produces 7 operas per year, there are over 400 voice majors representing a true microcosm of the world of opera, making auditions long (usually 2-3 days, twice a year) and roles rare in this highly competitive program.
The aforementioned auditions are called “Cattle Calls”. As previously mentioned “Cattle Calls” happen two times a year, and can last for days depending on the number of individuals who audition. When the auditions are announced, students sign up for a time slot and are assigned a number. It is a very exciting experience because auditions take place on the MAC stage, and for many performers, this may be their only opportunity to sing solo from that stage.
If you are a student cast in one of the operas, you are given un-restricted access to resources such as the Variations program (a digital music library), coachings to help you prepare for your role, and makeup artists assigned to either do, or consult with you about your stage makeup. Costumes are custom made at the costume shop, and sets that sometimes run into the millions of dollars are crafted on site. Rehearsal times are long and tedious, and often run late into the night. However once opening night has arrived, all of the pieces have been carefully put together leaving audiences with what can only be described as an “experience”. The productions that JSOM produce are unparalleled, competing not on the university level, but on the highest professional level. Andrew Porter, music critic for The New Yorker Magazine had this to say, “[The Indiana University Opera Theater] has struck me as just about the most serious and consistently satisfying of all American opera companies.”
One would not expect to find all of this tucked away in the cornfields of southern Indiana, but here it is, waiting for anyone who wants to come and train in the Crown Jewel of American Opera programs, or to simply enjoy the vast cultural riches that Indiana University consistently provides.
From its commitment to excellence to its world-class facilities and faculty, The School of Music has proven year after year why it deserves the honor of being one of the most important music schools in the world, and why it has developed it’s reputation as a legendary school of music.
“The Indiana University School of Music: A History” – George M. Logan
The Indiana University Jacobs School of Music Website: http://www.music.indiana.edu/
Mr. Lunsford is a Colorado native. In 2009, he won 1st Place in the Colorado/Wyoming Open Division of The National Association of Teachers of Singing Competition. In 2009 he was also a finalist and award winner in the Denver Lyric Opera Guild Competition, and was recently recognized as an “Outstanding Student of the Arts” where he was awarded a grant from “Allied Arts, Inc.” in Denver, Colorado. Andrew has enjoyed a wide array of concert and solo work, and most recently has completed training at the intensive Opera Young Artist Program at The Crested Butte Music Festival high in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. During that time Andrew had the opportunity to train with Maestro David Syrus, the Head of Music for London’s Royal Opera House-Covent Garden, and Director Sarah Meyers of the Metropolitan Opera.
Mr. Lunsford is currently training in one of the world’s pre-eminent voice programs, Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. In recognition of his exceptional talent, Mr. Lunsford was awarded the prestigious “Premiere Young Artist Award”, “JSOM Music Faculty Award”, “The Ildebrando Pizzetti Memorial Scholarship”, and the “Marianne V. Felton Friends of Music Voice Scholarship”. Andrew is currently training under internationally acclaimed soprano Carol Vaness.