A dream realized

Former director joins the charge toward better Music facilities.

Ken and Ann Bloomquist have long wanted a new music building at MSU, and now their contribution is helping to make that a reality. Ken is a former director of the Music school and remains an active performer.

Ken Bloomquist has thought about the facilities at the Michigan State University College of Music for a long time, and his perspective on them is unique compared to most people.

“It is a primary need,” he says.

And he should know. Bloomquist served on the faculty of the college from 1970 to 1992 and as director of the Music school from 1978 to 1989. In fact, he was the person responsible for elevating Music from department to school status at MSU after two years of trying.

“It didn’t take long after that to realize we needed more space and better space,” he recalls, “but money was always lacking.”

Now that the new Music Pavilion project is finally coming to life, Ken and his wife, Ann, have decided to support it through a personal gift. With their two year pledge, they will fulfil a long ago dream to see the facilities in the college improved.

“Annie and I feel close to the Music Pavilion project,” Bloomquist says. “Finally, after all these years, we are proud that we will have the facilities that a College of Music of our caliber deserves. We will be able to reflect our worth to the arts community around us and also to the world. Both Annie and I feel a sense of ‘mission accomplished!’”

Ann Bloomquist played an important role in the life of the Music school during Ken's time as director and professor. An MSU alumna who earned her master’s degree in music education, Ann has been a vital part of the mid-Michigan and Northport music scene
Ken and Ann Bloomquist have led the way in creating a vibrant music environment in Northport, Michigan where they have been honored for their efforts.
Ann and Ken Bloomquist participated in an MSU Band Tribute at Spartan Stadium in 2015. Ken is a former director of MSU Bands.

The Bloomquists moved to Michigan in 1970 when Ken was hired as the MSU Director of Bands. It was then Music Department chair Jim Niblock who asked Ken in 1976 to be his assistant director. That translated to Bloomquist becoming the full time director in 1977.  He says at that time he had several dreams, but in the beginning he did not give much thought to the facilities. That quickly changed.

“When I was traveling across the nation as a member of the National Association of Schools of Music Accreditation team, I began to realize how our facilities did not reflect what we were and what we had to offer,” Bloomquist says.

Since then he has felt that something needed to be done about that.

“MSU is a model of success in the performing arts nationally and internationally,” Bloomquist says. “We have quality students, professional and respected music faculty, and a large university that is known worldwide. On top of that, we are able to attract and invite the world’s greatest artists to our campus. Our faculty, our students and our patrons deserve high quality spaces in which to practice, perform and experience such high quality music.”

Ken and Ann Bloomquist know a thing or two about high quality music. Ken describes himself as a “born and raised trumpet player” who is still playing today. He was director of bands at MSU and played in the Lansing Symphony Orchestra. Ann, an MSU alumna who earned her master’s degree in music education, taught high school choral music, mixed chorus, men’s and women’s chorus and class piano in East Lansing Public Schools. She also served as East Lansing’s interim symphony orchestra director and as chorus master for the Lansing Opera Company for seven years in addition to conducting several church choirs and participating in community theatre.

Since leaving the MSU area in 1994, the Bloomquists have resided in Northport, a resort community in northern Michigan. Their enthusiasm for the Music Pavilion at MSU is no surprise when considering what they have accomplished in their adopted community up north.

Ken organized and conducted the Northport Community Band. Ann founded and conducted the Village Voices, a 60-voice community chorus. Ann has composed the music for and directed several original musical dramas, and the couple is credited with being the driving force behind the building of The Northport Community Arts Center which succeeded due to more than $1,000,000 in donations. It is easy to see why a contribution to MSU’s 38,000 square foot expansion and 8,500 square feet of renovated space for Music is near and dear to them.

“Ken and Ann Bloomquist had a tremendous impact on the music programs at MSU for many years,” says College of Music Dean James Forger. “In fact, Ken hired me to my first position at MSU, for which I am forever grateful. They were both tireless champions of Music at our university, and obviously their passion never waned. It is incredibly gratifying to know they have enthusiastically thrown their support behind our Music Pavilion project.”

Citing the excellence of the faculty from their time on campus through today, the Bloomquists are thrilled to support students and a faculty that most schools of music would love to have.

“Lack of space for large ensembles and rehearsal areas that did not have good sound proofing was a constant concern and problem,” Bloomquist says. “Ann and I are pleased beyond measure to know that current and future generations of Music faculty and students will benefit from the new and improved facilities.”

If you would like more information about naming opportunities in the Music Pavilion, please contact Senior Director of Development Rebecca Surian at surian@msu.edu or (517) 353-9872.

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