​The Center for Public Service Through Music and the Arts

Serving through music and the arts

Public Service Photo CMU faculty pianist Alexandra Mascolo-David (right) accompanies 13-year-old cellist Gabriel Cabezas, the first-place laureate in the Sphinx Organization’s 2006 Sphinx Competition for young African American and Latino classical musicians.

Randi L’Hommedieu believes that “everything a musician does is service.”

It’s a simple philosophy that led to a big idea, a CMU 2010 grant, and a new Center for Public Service through Music and the Arts.

L’Hommedieu, director of CMU’s School of Music, proposed the center as a way “to leverage existing instructional, personnel, physical, and program resources in the School of Music in order to extend institutional service activities to the regional and national levels.”

Among the initiatives slated for the Center for Public Service through Music and the Arts are public arts presentation services, K-12 education outreach services, public outreach services targeted to diverse populations and organizations, regional and national service to the profession, and development activities to achieve self-sufficiency.

L’Hommedieu is particularly enthusiastic about partnerships forming between the center and a variety of university, local, and national organizations, including:

• CMU Public Radio, which is augmenting the School of Music’s “Central Stage” program with broadcasts of four concerts and the development of at least one new product for broadcast.

• The Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe, which is collaborating with CMU’s percussion ensemble. Tribal drummers will lead the CMU group through the sacred American Indian drum-building process. The groups are expected to perform a joint concert in the spring. In addition, American Indian drumming techniques are expected to enrich CMU’s music education curriculum and the center’s in-service professional training for K-12 music educators.

• The Morey Foundation, which is sponsoring the Senior Music Outreach program. Through this initiative, special events are scheduled on campus for residents of assisted living facilities and retirement communities – along with other local seniors – and their families. In addition, the program funds off-campus performances in the senior facilities.

• The Sphinx Organization, whose partnership with CMU includes the recording and release of compact discs by Sphinx Competition winners on the university’s White Pine Music label, among other initiatives. The Detroit-based group aims to increase African American and Latino participation in music education and careers.

In addition, L’Hommedieu said a significant function of the center will be to offer more opportunities for CMU and K-12 students to have face time with visiting artists, which can provide a tremendous boost to the enthusiasm and self-esteem of young musicians.

“You can see the laser focus,” he said of his observation of students interacting with professional musicians in the type of clinics and master classes offered by the center. “There’s nothing better for a developing musician than to have that experience performing with or for a world-class performer.”

While the School of Music is leading the Center for Public Service through Music and the Arts, L’Hommedieu hopes to eventually invite all of the university’s performing and visual arts programs – including theater, dance and art – to participate in the center’s outreach activities.