November, 1990

Elliott S. Schwartz

This is the last occasion on which I'll be writing a "President's Report" for the CMS Newsletter, as my term of office expires on December 31, 1990. The past two years - and, in fact, the four years before that, during which time I served as Board Member for Composition and the President-Elect of the Society - have been most exciting for me, and I hope readers will forgive me for indulging in a bit of nostalgia - and perhaps some reflection as well.

In particular, I want to reflect on the special nature of The College Music Society as the quintessential "umbrella" organization. There are times when we all hesitate to use that over-worn term "umbrella". At such times it appears to be no more than a convenient catchword to which we all pay lip service, respond to with a nod - or a yawn - and then simply take for granted. CMS? Oh, yes, the U word. (Or was that an insurance company?) Over the past few years, though, in committee sessions and board meetings, I've been privileged to see that very "umbrella" in action. I can attest to the fact that this is no catchword, but a very real force—one which affects the way people work together, applying their energies and their talents to a common cause. It's been very satisfying for me to see the growth of various CMS projects—institutes, publications, meetings—from proposal to implementation and final follow-through. And much of the satisfaction has been in working with a remarkably gifted and dedicated group of colleagues. They are not only "specialists", often distinguished ones, but committed generalists as well; they want and need to share their special expertise with other musicians, and with students at every level of musical background.

If a skeptic wanted me to demonstrate the existence of the "umbrella", I would first point to a number of our publications. Consider the two most recent issues in the CMS Reports series, for example: one volume contains the summary findings of the CMS Study Group on the Content of the Undergraduate Music Curriculum, drawn from the broad perspective of a great range of musical disciplines, and yet focused upon a single issue. The other volume is drawn from one of the most exciting panels of the 1987 Annual Meeting held in New Orleans: a gathering of distinguished musicologists, discussing music history teaching at the undergraduate level.

Or I might point to our most recent 1990 Summer Institutes at Copper Mountain, Colorado, this past June. It was especially stimulating to see so many people at the Institute for Electronic Technology in Music Instruction representing a variety of specialties—performance, theory, music education, history and literature, composition—bringing this collective diversity to bear upon a single area of concentration. Obviously, the uses of "technology"—and the challenges of teaching music in a rapidly changing era—cut across all traditional lines. Or, as someone noted during the Institute for Music in General Studies, all music can be considered "new music", or "ethnic music". As boundaries continue to shift, one sees the value of flexibility—or of The College Music Society umbrella—more than ever before.