Music has been central to the University since its founding, given the gifts for singing and composition the earliest Sisters brought to the institution and its curriculum. By the mid 20th century, HNU was leading the way with innovative offerings available through the then-new Kodály Center for Music Education and Preparatory Music Program. Each is celebrating a golden anniversary in 2018-2019.
Quality music education
Sr. Mary Alice Hein founded HNU’s Kodály Center 50 years ago based on a vision of music for all. Placing singing at the foundation of musical development, the Kodály approach to music education — paired with a firsthand encounter with the Hungarian composer and philosopher behind the method — sparked in Sr. Mary Alice a lifetime commitment to quality music education, one that endures at the Center today.
“This vision is as relevant now as it was 50 years ago,” said Kodály Center Director Maree Hennessy, noting that continual reflection and collaboration has allowed Center offerings to remain responsive and innovative. The Center provides training for musicians and teachers in master of music (MM) and certificate programs. A recent initiative focuses on developing community music programs, from those geared toward children to choir sight reading.
The 2018 Kodály Summer Institute and Seminar — encompassing an academic summer program, mini conference, alumni choir, and more — kick-started the Center’s year of celebration. Additional 50th anniversary events are expected to include concerts, guest lectures, and events, culminating in a 2019 summer reunion, July 11 through 13.
A short documentary about the program is in the making and commissioned choral works honoring the 50th anniversary celebration are also underway, Hennessy said.
As the Preparatory Music Program revels in its past, it also has an eye trained on the future of educating young musicians in voice and 10 instruments from oboe to drums.
“To help ensure our sustained growth and presence as an exemplary center for music education in Oakland, we are creating a 50th Anniversary Endowment Fund, which will provide a strong financial base and the security to continue offering the best to our future — our children,” Director Katherine Baird said.
Another Sister, Sr. Therese-Cecile Murphy, an HNU music professor and early advocate of Suzuki music education, founded Preparatory Music in 1968 as one of the first Suzuki centers on the West coast. Today, the program is recognized for providing both Suzuki and traditional music instruction.
A slate of concerts featuring the talented students learning from the 37-member Preparatory Music staff debuted with a Faculty and Friends Recital held in late September. Additional upcoming events include the following:
- Pops Concert — at 3:00 p.m. Nov. 18 in Regents’ Theatre, Valley Center for the Performing Arts (VCPA)
- Concerto Festival Concert — 3:00 p.m. Feb. 24 in Regents’ Theatre, VCPA
- Family Music and Art Day — from 2 to 5:00 p.m. May 5 in Kennedy Courtyard. Entertainment and activities planned include live music by Preparatory Music students, family karaoke, and a fundraising tile design party. The finished tiles will be embedded in the design of two benches commemorating the program’s 50-year history. They will be housed in Kennedy and the VCPA.