I am honored to have been elected the third president of the Center for World Music. Next year I will celebrate my fiftieth year as a student of world music. I entered the University of Washington as a graduate student in ethnomusicology in the fall of 1968. It’s hard to believe, but the Center for World Music, founded in 1963, has an even longer history in this area of study than I do. In fact, one of its first teachers, the distinguished bharatanatyam dancer Balasaraswati was my teacher of South Indian singing while I was a graduate student. During those early years, I very much admired the activism of Robert E. Brown, a real pioneer in the study of world music: he invented the phrase “world music” as an antidote to the ungainly word ethnomusicology. Both he and my Ph.D. supervisor, Robert Garfias, had studied together at UCLA. I never dreamed that I might someday follow in his footsteps.
His footsteps and my work with the CWM will take me down a somewhat different path than I have followed until now. My path has been one of academic research, publication, service to university and scholarly organizations, and the education of the next generations of world-music scholars. Robert E. Brown and the Center for World Music have followed a no-less-important path sometimes labeled “applied ethnomusicology.” Over the years the Center for World Music has developed important programs that serve a wider audience than academics usually do. The Center sponsors programs in four broad areas: (1) K-12 music education; (2) concerts for a general-interest audience; (3) engagement with and service to ethnic and other adult communities; and (4) adult study abroad summer programs.
Currently, the Center’s K-12 music education program is particularly strong. I can’t express the delight and pride I felt recently at a K-8 school as I listened to each grade play the Balinese gamelan, a wonderful gong orchestra from Indonesia. Watching their smiles as they performed and listening to the progress they made from grade to grade confirmed for me the importance of the community-service-oriented path of the CWM’s mission. I look forward during the next few years to strengthening and expanding the CWM’s activities in all four of its program areas.
I am particularly grateful that Lewis Peterman, our past president, will remain on the Center’s Board of Directors and Executive Committee. I know all of us will benefit from his wise counsel and vast experience.
Best wishes, and thank you for your interest in the Center for World Music.
—Timothy Rice, President, Center for World Music