Arts + Culture

UCLA enters new era in music with formation of Herb Alpert School of Music

Gift of $30 million from music legend is largest to the arts in UC history

Herb Alpert and Lani Hall Alpert
Knight Bilham Photography

Herb Alpert and Lani Hall Alpert

UCLA announced today the formation and naming of the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music and a $30 million endowment gift made possible through the generosity of the renowned performer, producer and philanthropist Herb Alpert and his wife, Lani Hall Alpert.
This gift from the Herb Alpert Foundation in support of the new school is the largest ever made to the arts in the University of California system and is the single largest individual gift to music higher education in the western United States.
Aligning the university's departments of ethnomusicology, music and musicology, the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music will be devoted to the performance and study of music in all of its global diversity, including world music, popular music, jazz and classical. UCLA students will have the opportunity to augment their academic studies in music with courses on the music business, music in the public sector, and music and health, among others. 
This balanced approach to performance, scholarship and practical knowledge, as well as to the broad sweep of music in today's world, represents a significant departure from the emphasis in many U.S. schools of music on the theory, history and performance of European classical music.
"The importance of the arts at a major research university cannot be overstated," said UCLA Chancellor Gene Block. "At UCLA, we are deeply committed to excellence and contemporary thought throughout a full range of arts study and practice. With its mission to explore new horizons in music, the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music will stand tall alongside today's most progressive models in science, humanities and the arts and will be a proud complement to the leading-edge work underway across UCLA."
Alpert first gained fame as the celebrated trumpet player and leader of Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass, bringing Latin sounds into the pop music limelight in the 1960s. The co-founder of A&M records, he has five No. 1 hits, eight Grammys, 15 gold albums and 14 platinum albums to his name. Alpert was pioneering crossover music long before there was a term for it.
"Music is a powerful force, and sharing music between people and cultures has the power to change the world," Alpert said. "The world today is smaller but also more complicated than ever before, and students engaged in the study and performance of music can be ambassadors for a new educational paradigm."
Alpert's history and reputation for blending and crossing over is a perfect fit for UCLA's new school of music.
"Since UCLA's founding, music has always been a part of our story," said Christopher Waterman, dean of the UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture. "For nearly half a century, our university has supported the instruction, scholarship and performance of music that serves diverse communities, reaches across cultural boundaries and is global in perspective. The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music will contribute to what we hope will be a transformation of music studies in American higher education through an open and inclusive approach to all music. The Herb Alpert Foundation's gift ensures the opportunity for future generations of musicians, teachers, scholars and activists to study, engage with and create musical culture in all of its fascinating and continually evolving forms."
"The new school's mission also mandates a holistic approach to training students — no matter their major — as creators, performers, artists, activists, scholars and professionals," said Timothy Rice, the inaugural director of the school and a professor of ethnomusicology. "The school's curriculum combines musical diversity, interdisciplinary studies, liberal arts values and professional training in a way that takes advantage of its position within a great research university. Students will develop the practical and critical skills that prepare them for careers not only in professional performance and academia but also in music journalism, the entertainment business, and the public and nonprofit sectors."
Rona Sebastian, president of the Herb Alpert Foundation, said that Mr. Alpert's philanthropic involvement with UCLA spans nearly four decades and includes, among other things, the establishment of the Herb Alpert Jazz Studies scholarships and support for the UCLA Arts Music Partnership Program, which brings music education to K–12 students in Los Angeles-area schools.
"The foundation was interested in UCLA as the recipient of this gift for many reasons, including the quality of the faculty, the new vision for music being developed there and the opportunities that the position of music studies within a major research university would bring," Sebastian said. "Herb and Lani are longtime supporters of the arts and longtime friends of UCLA. With its diverse and dynamic student body, outstanding faculty and its location in one of the world's most exciting cities, UCLA is well suited to receive and leverage this major gift in support of cross-cultural collaboration, the sharing of traditions, musical experimentation and the education of the whole student."
"Herb Alpert has excelled as a performer, a producer, an entrepreneur, an artist and a philanthropist," said Waterman. "In this sense, he is a perfect model for what we hope our students will achieve in their careers. It is particularly meaningful that this major gift to name the school of music comes from such a Renaissance man."
For more information, visit the new school's Web site at
The outstanding faculty features many award-winning musicians, composers and scholars, including guitarist and National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master Kenny Burrell; baritone Vladimir Chernov; soprano Juliana Gondek; sitar master Shujaat Husain Khan; trumpet soloist Jens Lindemann; musicologist and MacArthur fellow Susan McClary; piano soloist Walter Ponce; musician, composer and preeminent Middle East music scholar Ali Jihad Racy; ethnomusicologist and former director of the Smithsonian Institution's Folkways Records Anthony Seeger; and musicologist, digital media pioneer and Guggenheim fellow Robert Winter.
Similarly, among former students are many leaders in their fields, such as Cristian Amigo, composer, guitarist and former Guggenheim fellow; actress and comedienne Carol Burnett; Nancy Hao-Ming Chao-Chin, producer for the Broadcasting Corporation of China; film composer Don Davis ("The Matrix" franchise); Gila Flam, head of the Music and Sound Archives of the Jewish National and University Library at Jerusalem's Hebrew University; Martha Gonzales, lead singer for the Chicana band Quetzal; dean and provost of the Julliard School Ara Guzelimian; classical composer Jake Heggie ("Dead Man Walking"); film composer James Horner ("Titanic"); Laura Kuhn, director of the John Cage Trust; Akin Euba, Mellon Professor of Music at the University of Pittsburgh and founder of the Center for Intercultural Music at Cambridge University; musicologist and award-winning author Cristina Magaldi; composer and performer Randy Newman; Dan Sheehy, director of Folkways Recordings at the Smithsonian Institution; pianist Leonard Stein; Bonnie Wade, chair of the department of music at UC Berkeley; I Nyoman Wenten, chair of the world music program at the California Institute of the Arts; Nora Yeh, archivist with the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress; and composer LaMonte Young.
Recent student standouts include Angel Blue and Brian Cali (Domingo-Thornton Young Artist Program, Los Angeles Opera, 2007); Jamie Chamberlin (soloist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Santa Barbara Foundation Prize in Opera, 2007); Evan Hughes (scheduled Carnegie Hall debut in January 2008); Carissa Kim, (National Chopin Competition finalist, 2006); Kelley O'Connor (soloist with the New York Philharmonic, leading soloist at the Santa Fe Opera Festival, 2004); Rodell Rosel (National Grand Prize winner of the Metropolitan Opera Auditions, scheduled Metropolitan Opera debut in 2009); Ryan Rowen (Pauline Venable Turrill 19th-Century Music Award, 2007); Karen Vuong (finalist at the Operalia International Competition, 2006); and Kahil Wilson (first-place winner at the Metropolitan Opera Regional Auditions, October 2007).
In addition, UCLA's Trumpet Ensemble won first place at the National Trumpet Competition in 2005, and two soloists won first-place prizes.
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