Exploring Harmonies in Culture

Music in the Neighborhoods project engages MSU students in new and innovative ways.

Michigan State University students come from all walks of life, representing cultures from each of our 50 states, and more than 130 countries around the globe. While cultural diversity converges in the classroom, diversity also crosses paths in the campus neighborhoods where students live and engage in social activities. That’s where the MSU Neighborhoods Initiative and the College of Music step in, introducing Music in the Neighborhoods; Exploring Harmonies in Culture.

The idea grew from discussions to discover and develop innovative ways for students to experience cultures beyond their own. As part of the MSU-wide initiative, Bolder by Design, the project examines how cultural competencies for students can intermingle.

“Music in the Neighborhoods is designed to encourage students to step out of their comfort zones, to build unity and diversity in new ways,” explains Rhonda Buckley, associate dean for Outreach and Engagement and executive director of the MSU Community Music School. “It’s a vibrant invitation toward cultural engagement, continues Buckley, “events are much more than just concerts. We’re creating a synergy of cultural elements, with dance, food, and dress that enhance the musical presentation, including study abroad and other opportunities for students to discover cultural enrichment.”

College of Music students are organizing concerts and performing across campus throughout the spring semester in each of the five MSU Neighborhoods. Each event explores culturally significant regions through musical genre and food pairings. The concerts are a big hit,” says Buckley. “Our music students are doing a tremendous job and patrons are loving the unique combination of food, culture, and music our events offer.”

The lineup for the Spring 2014 event series includes:

  • River Trail Neighborhood, 1/26, 7:00 p.m., McDonel Hall Cafeteria: Lunar New Year: Silk Road Chinese Orchestra. Haobing Zhu, piano
  • North Neighborhood, 2/6, 8:30 p.m., MSU Union Ballroom: Arabic Fusion Band: Wisaal
  • Brody Neighborhood , 3/19, 6:30 p.m., Brody Grotto: Excerpts from Puccini’s La Bohème: MSU Opera Theatre
  • South Neighborhood, 4/4, 7:30 p.m., Holden Classroom, C134-135: MSU Salsa Band: Salsa Verde
  • East Neighborhood, 4/10, 7:00 p.m., North Lounge: Jewish Folk Music: Slivovitz (klezmer ensemble)

The MSU College of Music and the MSU Neighborhoods Initiative is taking stock of participation. Performer and patron feedback is being collected to help inform planning for the Fall 2014 event series. For more information, call the College of Music Outreach and Engagement Office at 517-432-7371.

Photos taken from January 26 event, Lunar New Year: Silk Road Chinese Orchestra.

Support for this project provided by: Office for Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives, Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs and Services, Office of Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education, College of Music.

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