University News

UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music formally approved by UC Board of Regents

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Jazz students
John Vande Wege/UCLA

The school embraces the scholarly study and performance of jazz as well as music from China, India, Latin American and West Africa.

The University of California Regents voted today to formally establish the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music, and campus officials named an interim dean for the first music school in the UC system.

Judi Smith, dean and vice provost emerita of the UCLA College, will serve as interim dean. Since July 2015, Smith has served as the school’s executive director, emphasizing its commitment to a balanced focus on scholarship, performance, composition and teaching of music in all its contemporary and historical diversity.

The school has approximately 450 undergraduate and graduate students and offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees through three highly rated academic departments, each with internationally acclaimed faculty.

UCLA’s proposal to transfer the ethnomusicology and music departments from the School of the Arts and Architecture, and the musicology department from the division of humanities received extensive input from students, faculty and staff. It was approved by faculty leaders at both the campus and UC system levels.

The Regents’ approval formally establishes UCLA’s 12th professional school and clears the way to conduct a search for an inaugural dean.

“This is a significant moment for UCLA — a new academic unit that demonstrates our continued commitment to the performing and visual arts through scholarship, education and public programming,” Chancellor Gene Block said. “The faculty, students and staff who worked so hard to make this a reality deserve our thanks.”

Smith, the interim dean, said: “The Herb Alpert School of Music will set a new standard for music schools in the 21st century, with its balance between music making and scholarship, and the balance between classical western music, world music and popular contemporary music.”

“We are excited to have the opportunity to offer a new model for music studies well-suited for research universities in our global, interconnected world,” she said.

Created in 2007 with a $30 million gift from the Herb Alpert Foundation, the school had previously been administered by the School of the Arts and Architecture rather than functioning as a separate academic unit.

The music department competes for students with the nation’s top music schools. It provides intensive individual studio instruction, thorough theoretical training and full participation in large and small ensembles.

The ethnomusicology department is a leading and the largest program in ethnomusicology worldwide and embraces the scholarly study and performance traditions of music representing various cultures of the world; it also administers the program in jazz studies.

The musicology department boasts cutting-edge cultural theorists and music thinkers who specialize in traditional subjects of European and American music, as well as more recent subjects such as rock and film music. UCLA’s doctoral programs in ethnomusicology and musicology have received top rankings by the National Research Council. 

Herb Alpert, the renowned musician and co-founder of A&M records, first gained fame as the trumpet player and leader of Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass, bringing Latin sounds into the pop music limelight in the 1960s. A celebrated musical and visual artist, he has numerous No. 1 hits and Grammy awards. Alpert’s wife, Grammy award-winning singer Lani Hall, was the original voice of Sergio Mendes’ Brasil 66 group and enjoyed a successful solo career. She now performs and records with her husband.

Scott Waugh, UCLA’s executive vice chancellor and provost thanked Smith for her continued leadership and service and said a search would soon begin for an inaugural dean.

All faculty and programs are housed in the Evelyn and Mo Ostin Music Center, a pair of facilities completed in 2014, and a pair of facilities completed in 1955 and 1965 known collectively as the Schoenberg Music Building, which was named in honor of composer and former UCLA faculty member Arnold Schoenberg.

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