The Aspen String Trio

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BOGO letter from UB PRESIDENT regarding the Aspen Residency
August 8th, 2011
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Dear UB Alumni and Friends,

“I found myself just wanting Aspen to play so I could use their music to take me to a place of internal examination.”

“I could have sat there for a couple more hours.”

“Art in its final form is never really final, I’ve learned from yesterday’s experience. Art is constantly under revision. Each time a new set of eyes or ears witnesses a work, it changes.”

These are some of the written responses students submitted, as part of a class assignment, to Kendra Kopelke, associate professor in the School of Communications Design, after hearing the Aspen Ensemble perform. The quintet presented a workshop to the class prior to their April 14 concert, just one of the many events that compose the University’s performing arts series, Spotlight UB.

For some students, the performance represented a first experience with live classical music. For others, it reinforced the commitment to craft that defines all successful professionals. For the entire group, a University of Baltimore class spent listening to and observing professional musicians represented a remarkable departure from business as usual.

This is but one example of how the University of Baltimore is changing to meet the needs of a new generation of students. UB’s historical mission, to provide a quality education that prepares our graduates to succeed in their careers, will never change. Yet we must continually reassess how best to fulfill that mission while acknowledging that higher education does more than simply prepare students for jobs; we also have the responsibility and the opportunity to develop future generations of engaged, well-rounded citizens. And, like art and science, these dual objectives—career and life preparation—go hand in hand.

Five years ago, the Association of American Colleges and Universities commissioned a study to determine what employers look for in college graduates. Respondents overwhelmingly endorsed the broad-based skills that result from a liberal education, including technical literacy, effective communication, critical thinking, global awareness and the ability to think creatively. Specialized knowledge will always be important, but as the 21st-century workplace continues to transform at dizzying rates, core skills will remain in constant demand.

In my own varied professional life, I have benefited from the statistics class I was required to take as an undergraduate, by the analytical rigor of my legal education and by my appreciation of music, ingrained in me since childhood. My career and my personal life have been made richer by the interaction and integration of these and other experiences: in short, Knowledge That Works for life.

It’s fair to assume that the students in the aforementioned writing class will not become professional musicians. But their experience with the Aspen Ensemble may nonetheless impact their professional lives. The AAC&U study revealed that, second only to the ability to understand new developments in technology, employers value the ability of potential employees to work in teams. I leave you with another student reflection, one which suggests that the importance of collaboration was represented more effectively in the Aspen workshop than it could have been in any textbook.

“The Aspen Ensemble gave me a brand-new take on music. The individual musicians in the group became one. … They could read each other, and were as comfortable adjusting to each other’s playing in the moment as they were in revealing the emotion that struck them while they played.”


Robert L. Bogomolny
President, University of Baltimore