Michael Puri / Music

A University Professorship and the establishment of this Endowment are but two testaments to the broad and profound contribution that Boots Mead made and continues to make to life at UVa. However, as a member of the music department—his department, where the halls still ring with his name—I want to call particular attention to his influence as a musician and music educator. Sharing with Mr. Mead a training as a classical pianist and a pedagogical focus on Western classical music history and theory, I have the honor of walking in his footsteps every day that I enter into Old Cabell Hall, and seek to extend his legacy with every class that I teach.

My dream idea is an attempt to continue this mission. I would like to increase the exposure of the students of my Theory 3 class (MUSI 4310, a Fall course) to classical music in performance—both in the present and in the past, through historical recordings—while also using these extracurricular moments to cement the bonds between student and teacher, as well as among the students themselves. For live performance, I would like to bring my students, who usually number between ten and twenty in this upper-level course for music majors, to one concert in three of the main classical music series in Charlottesville: the Charlottesville Chamber Music Festival (in September), the Tuesday Evening Concert Series (year-long), and the Charlottesville & University Symphony Orchestra (year-long). In each case, we would meet for a meal at a restaurant within walking distance of the concert hall—which is usually UVa’s Old Cabell Hall for all three series—either before or after the concert. The three concerts as a whole would be chosen so as to maximize their exposure to music of different periods and within different genres (solo performance, chamber music, concerto, and symphony). In addition, we would meet outside of class before each concert to listen to historical performances of the repertoire to be encountered in that concert. Finally, whenever feasible, I would try to arrange a one-on-one meeting with the performers (or, in the case of CUSO, the conductor, Kate Tamarkin), during which we would all have an opportunity to ask our guests about the particular challenges and rewards of each piece from their particular perspective.

If implemented, this proposal would provide a crucial supplement not only to Theory 3, but also to the music curriculum as a whole, whose greatest challenge is always to bridge academic learning with the experience of music in performance. As a pianist, I perform for my students in most class meetings and always invite any other performers in class to do so if they are playing relevant repertoire, but this is necessarily informal, and only ends up whetting our appetite for full-blown concerts. Furthermore, each of the three classes in our theory sequence is a lecture class that focuses on the correct acquisition and application of technical language to the understanding and composition of music; this format, which is necessary for the subject matter, nevertheless reduces the possibility for students and teacher not only to interact as freely with each other as they would in a seminar, but also to talk about music in a less formal and more personal way. The supplemental meetings and experiences proposed here would allow precisely for this sort of interaction and discussion. Equally important, they would help to integrate classical music into students’ lives in a way that a course never could: first, they would introduce these students—the majority of whom are at the beginning of their second year—to classical music in Charlottesville and at UVa, as well as to the rich and vast history of classical music recordings, which they could then learn to appreciate and even collect for the rest of their lives, if they wished. At the end of the day, though, the greatest value of these experiences—what will make them most memorable—will come from the fact that we shared them with each other.


Tickets: 20 students * $15/ticket * 3 concerts = $900

Meals: 20 students * $15/meal * 3 meals = $900

Snacks (for listening sessions and meetings with performers): ~ $200

Total: $2000