Aaron Dworkin, Dean of the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre and Dance, will be featured in two public events in Kalamazoo on Tuesday, May 31. The first is an open forum on how to engage Kalamazoo area underserved minority youth in classical arts, to be held at the Douglass Community Association at 10:00 am. The second is an evening presentation of "Spoken Word Musical Fusion," in which the 2005 MacArthur fellow will present a multi-media program of poetry, projected images, and live music. A benefit for the Kalamazoo-based organization Mothers Of Hope, it begins at 8 pm at the Light Fine Arts building at Kalamazoo College.
In an interview with Cara Lieurance, Dworkin is asked in what way the current "Black Lives Matter" movement is related to the work he began 20 years ago to empower young black and Latino musicians to pursue classical music careers. He founded the Sphinx Competition, now in its 19th year, which has grown in size and influence, with a touring quartet, soloists, and orchestra of competition laureates who perform for and teach thousands of young people each year. Dworkin says he has always believed that the arts "present a critically important way of being able to not just depict, but present and talk about issues that face society, especially where there are issues of social injustice."
In 2011, Dworkin was chosen by President Obama to serve on the National Council on the Arts. It was "incredibly humbling to be able to bring a voice to the strategic vision of how the arts play a role in our society," he says. When asked how attending a community meeting weighs against setting policy at the national level, he says, "All politics is local, and in many ways, so much about policy is local."
Dworkin became Dean of the School of Music, Dance and Theatre at the University of Michigan in 2015. One of his main concerns is helping each student navigate the ever-changing landscape of performance careers. One promising direction, he says, is chamber music. He established the M-Prize, a new chamber music competition that's already the largest in the world. Broadcast in Michigan in mid-May, the first prize of $100,000 was awarded to the Calidore String Quartet.