• Piano prof takes music training to the Middle East

    Dr. Bradley Bolen with Omar, a studentWhen nations emerge from conflict or isolation, it seems unlikely that music or dance would be at the forefront of most citizens’ minds. But Baylor professor Dr. Bradley Bolen and American Voices — the United States’ foremost nonprofit organization for cultural engagement worldwide — have found otherwise.

    Bolen, a senior lecturer in piano, traveled to Iraq, Syria and Lebanon along with a dozen other professional musicians for six weeks this summer. There, he found dozens of musicians eager to be his students and seek academic degrees in order to teach, perform and rebuild their countries’ educational foundation.

    On his blog, Bolen shared the story of an 18-year-old student at the Institute of Fine Arts at Irbil, Kurdistan, in northern Iraq, who wants to be the first certified piano teacher in Kurdistan. She hopes to come to America for training, but finances are naturally tight. “Wouldn’t it be neat if her diploma were green and gold?” asked Bolen, who in addition to sharing his skills through teaching, also donated a suitcase of sheet music to the fine arts libraries of the Iraqi cities of Mosul and Kirkuk.

    Sic ’em, Dr. Bolen!