Wednesday, April 09, 2008

The Herb Alpert School of Music

Imagine my great glee to be able to tell people that I have an advanced academic degree from what would eventually be called The Herb Alpert School of Music.

Here's an article in today's L.A. Times on the announcement.

Here's the opening paragraph (since, eventually, you'll have to pay The Times to read that article):
Eight-time Grammy winner and Los Angeles native Herb Alpert, who in November pledged $30 million to UCLA to establish the cross-disciplinary UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music, has now given $15 million to the School of Music at the California Institute of the Arts. In recognition of the gift, to be announced today, the school will be renamed the Herb Alpert School of Music.
(found via)

(picture found via)

Maybe they'll find a way to bring back the Instrumental Pop Tune. Here's an article about how it went away.

Classical Music Tags: . . . . . . . . .


Daniel Wolf said...

David --

I grew up on my father's Herb Alpert, Cal Tjader, Martin Denney, and Jackie Gleason albums. A legacy of smooth instrumental borderline pop music is a good thing to build a music school on, methinks.

David Ocker said...

I hope they decide to teach the classics (like Raymond Scott and John Kirby) too.

I'm also having a good time contemplating the existential clash between that pop curriculum and the borderline stuff they tried to teach me 30 years ago (Cage, Stockhausen, Carter etc).

Excuse me. Did I say "borderline"? I meant "cutting edge".

od said...

Is it odd that he paid twice as much to UCLA? Is it odd that both of them are called the Herb Albert School of Music?

My guess is that he was kind of bummed out that A&M was assimilated by the Borg that is Universal Music Group and decided that the next frontier would be to monopolize music education. Is USC Thornton Herb Albert School of Music on the horizon?

At UCLA, it hasn't made that much of difference from the bottom up...except that "The Spanish Flea" is now the only required audition piece...and we are forced to do the Teaberry Shuffle ( whenever rounding corners.

od said...

Oh yeah, and this is what is meant by "interdisciplinary":

Scott Fessler said...

I'm kinda tickled about the renaming. Herb Alpert was my musical hero when I was 12 or so. The TJB recordings are what really got me interested in music in the first place. While I might prefer to be able to say it was Stravinsky or Miles or the Beatles, it was in fact Herb Alpert - much to my dad's chagrin. I still have all of the TJB vinyl. My first band in 7th grade (2 trumpets, guitar & drums) was called "The San Juan Prosecutors" and we covered TJB tunes and wrote our own in that style. We even sent a recording off to Herb Alpert in the hopes he would record the tunes. Of course, we never heard back. I still have an old 5" reel of tape of the 2 tunes we sent. Not too bad for kids, perhaps. An odd and interesting path, ultimately, from "The Lonely Bull" to CalArts, NEC and Berklee (where Herb Alpert funds the "Herb Alpert Visiting Professorship").

David Ocker said...

I just listened to a few Herb Alpert recordings on YouTube (after following Charle's Teaberry link) and I must report I did NOT have the patience to listen to an entire song all the way through.

Reminds me of the scene in Amadeus where Mozart says to Salieri, while playing back his welcome march from memory after only one hearing, "And after that it just repeats."

Scott: what have they named after Herb at the New England Conservatory?

I don't doubt that all these institutions will use the money in accordance with their curricula and that Herb will not try to offer aesthetic guidance. He is obviously an astute businessman and a musician with a flair for the pop hook - which made him a bundle of loot.

The fact that he's chosen to share the take with these particular institutions can only be a GOOD thing. Although it's a bit of a kick in the mental butt to those high-minded, elite, serious artist-types (like me) who have studied in those places and hoped to become great artists. Will future students choose different role models because of this?

ONE MORE POINT: Both USC and UCLA have buildings named after Schoenberg. So why shouldn't UCLA and CalArts both have things named after Herb Alpert. Lots of changes in 60 years, huh?

Scott Fessler said...

As far as I can tell, NEC has no affiliation with H.A. As far as I'm concerned, having spent 2.5 years at CalArts, 4 years at NEC and 28 (yikes!) years at Berklee, of the three institutions, I was certainly the least comfortable at NEC; to the extent that, for more than 20 years I deliberately stayed away from the conservatory campus. It wasn't until my daughter started taking auditions there that I was essentially "forced" to return. Is there a cosmic Alpert-related connection?

By the way, as a CalArtian student, I was never too keen on the dedicated CalArts music performance space being named for a Disney ("Roy O. Disney Concert Hall"). At the time I did perceive the association as, at the least, a slight kick in the ego butt. (Silly high-minded, elite, serious artist-type.) So, while naming the music school for H.A. is obviously a more public gesture, the two dedications are cut from the same cloth.

David Ocker said...

Scott - I don't remember you ever mentioning your discomfort with the name Disney back then. I do remember playing an Ornette Coleman tune with you in the ROD, however

I recently read an obituary of Paul Brach who had been head of the art school during our time at CIA. It talked about his radically new philosphy of arts education: by teaching students about contemporary cutting edge artists rather than forcing them to study the classics.

This downplaying the classics was pretty much true in all the departments of CalArts back then.

The one exception was animation where the classic character animation of little prancing fauns and little prancing fawns was still in evidence, co-existing with the abstract, cutting-edge stuff. Why?

Could it have been because Disney corporation needed to replace their aging animators? Would that have been true if Disney money had never been donated to the school? (And if Walt were not buried in the sub-basement. No wait, that last was just a rumor.)

I think Herb Alpert will be an entirely different effect, as he has not begat a corporation in need of a steady flow of new instrumental pop ensembles essential to turning out new profit, I mean product.

A better comparison of this renaming might be the Sibelius Academy in Finland - where I've been told the Sibelius family constantly monitors the school. Or maybe the Schoenberg Institute and its variable relations with his ancestors.

Or maybe Herb will be content to have his name on the wall of B-Block while allowing the music school to wander on its merry way.

ericnp said...

Oh crap. now I can't get Tijuana Taxi out of my head.