In Conversation with President Keith Ward

Keith Ward

In my last column I characterized the summer as a time to reflect, refresh, and renew.  I have been doing a little of all three since then, and one topic I have mused upon is one important to us all in our profession: change.

Granted, I’m not saying anything new by drawing attention to it.  Change in the music world, and in academe, has been accelerating for more than a decade.  Progress has not been linear, nor can it be.  We are, as a profession, complex.  As our work goes deeper and wider, and as we move toward curricula that are broader, more diverse, and inclusive, we are navigating processes in our profession that do not hold single answers.  Those answers may include, for example, the continuing of traditional careers, on the one hand, to, on the other, new paths that are less reliant on institutional structures and narratives, ones that instead draw upon development of an independent, entrepreneurial  musician.  Technology will continue to influence us profoundly in how we teach, create, and perform.  It will influence the methods and results of our research, of how we communicate what we do, how we engage our audiences and classes, and how we approach the creative process itself.

Whatever the path, from one viewed as more traditional to the explosion of opportunities packaged under the umbrella of “the 21st-Century Musician,” there could not be a better time to be doing our work.  Asking new curricular questions, our dialogue is becoming ever richer.  With a history of exploring new ideas, CMS has been part of this wave of change through a taskforce, summits, articles in the Symposium, webinars, and conference presentations and performances. The breadth of our work, part of which includes change, will be on full display this October at the national conference in San Antonio, Texas.

All of that said, my particular thoughts about change this month have focused less on these rich discussions and debates and more on the Society itself – more specifically, on its leadership.

On August 1 we begin a new phase in the history of our Society when Bill Pelto becomes the second executive director in our organization’s history, succeeding Robby Gunstream, who led us for thirty-three years.  Bill steps into the position during a time of change, both within the profession and within our Society.  His longstanding devotion to CMS, his experience these past three decades as a faculty member and a dean, his openness to listening to all voices, and his commitment to leading the Society, now on the eve of its 60th anniversary, all offer a promising future.

What are his initial plans and objectives?  Instead of talking for Bill, I will turn this column over to him in August so that you can hear first-hand his thoughts on our great organization and how he will assist as well as guide us in our work.