Dr. Keith Kothman (pronounced KOHTH-mun) left his position as director of the Montana State University School of Music to join the Western Michigan School of Music in late June under extraordinary circumstances: the COVID-19 pandemic and a reckoning of racial injustice sparked by the death of George Floyd.
In a conversation with Cara Lieurance, Kothman says he was drawn to Western because of its strong reputation as a music school. He has found that working with staff and faculty to address the COVID crisis has only increased his appreciation.
That work has involved hundreds of hours of online meetings to address the needs of students studying performance as well as music education. Western is working with Kalamazoo Public Schools to put teaching assistants in classrooms, at least virtually. Interestingly, the interface of acoustic music and computers is a strong point for Kothman and others on the faculty, like Chris Biggs, Lisa Coons, and Carter Rice. Like them, Kothman is a composer with a longstanding focus on electro-acoustic music.