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Performer Mayyadda singing at the University of Minnesota Juneteenth Celebration “We Are The Noise: The Echoes of Our Ancestors” captured on Saturday, June 15.
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Published June 23, 2024

UMN welcomes a new director of the School of Music

Dr. Patrick Warfield wants to foster an inclusive and inspiring community within the School of Music.
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Image by Grace Henrie
People gather and talk at CLA’s event welcoming Patrick Warfield.

The College of Liberal Arts (CLA) welcomed Patrick Warfield, the recently appointed director of the School of Music (SoM), to the University of Minnesota at an event on Thursday. 

The event, hosted at the residence of CLA alumni Anders Folk on Lake Harriet, brought together faculty, students and members of the broader arts community in the Twin Cities.

Warfield said he views music not just as an art form but as a powerful cultural force intertwined with economics, class, race and gender, with the unique ability to bring people together.

Ann Waltner, interim dean of CLA, said Warfield is an exciting and dynamic individual who she hopes will make the “already wonderful” SoM better.

“The music department is particularly important as a way of connecting the University with the community,” Waltner said. “He understands the potential for doing that.”

Warfield’s journey into music began in his early years, when he was drawn to the sense of community it fostered. He received his undergraduate degree in music education from Lawrence University and a graduate degree in musicology from Indiana University.

Throughout his career, Warfield said he sought to bridge the gap between audiences and complex compositions. From providing talks for the Chicago Symphony to demystifying operas, he has worked to make classical music more accessible and engaging.

Before coming to the University, he served as the associate director of the University of Maryland’s School of Music.

His move to the University of Minnesota was not only a professional shift but also a personal one, as he said it allowed him and his wife to return to the Midwest where they both are originally from. Warfield said he is inspired by the local arts scene in the Twin Cities.

Warfield added the arts are especially important during this extremely divisive time.

“The arts bring people together and allow us to talk to each other even when we come from very different places,” Warfield said.

He said the arts also have an incredible power to create and inspire change.

“I believe in the STEM fields, I think they’re hugely important,” Warfield said. “But if the sciences were going to fix our world, they would have done so by now.”

Warfield added he envisions a transformation in music education, aiming to broaden the curriculum beyond Western European classical music and expand to music throughout the rest of the world.

Maja Radovanlija, a teaching specialist in guitar at the SoM, said Warfield is already working to support the SoM’s community.

“He will be very supportive of what we already do,” Radovanlija said. “We have a very diverse community, but he will probably be diversifying more and supporting collaborative ideas that are happening.”

Warfield said the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on arts is evident, and he is determined to innovate to help students rebuild their arts knowledge. 

“We have to rethink everything we’re doing, to think about how to build up again the skills, the talent, the approaches that were lost during the pandemic,” Warfield said. “I see that as an opportunity. It means we can rethink in basic ways about accessibility and inclusivity.”

Warfield’s approach to music education extends beyond the stage. He said students should recognize the diverse career paths available within the field, from performers to educators, sound engineers to composers. Warfield added he and his faculty are actively working to engage students who may not have initially considered majoring in the arts. 

Warfield plans to offer programs that allow students to explore their musical potential through combining different interests.

“I like to think of my role as wanting to be a dream maker,” Warfield said. “I want to know what people want to do and help them get there.”

Warfield added he wants to see a University where the arts are not just a supplement but an integral part of the institution’s identity.

“When it comes to whatever it is we’re caring about as a university, they should remember that the arts play a role in all of those questions,” Warfield said.

Warfield said, as an administrator, he wants to build a community where students can speak with him about their problems or music.

“I want you to be excited by all the sounds there are in the world and imagine what they mean, how they’ve been used, sometimes how they’ve been misused,” Warfield said. “And remember the beauty of just opening your ears and hearing the world.”

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  • Jerry Cohen
    Oct 30, 2023 at 10:37 am

    Academics should show scholarship in all they do and say. “I believe in the STEM fields, I think they’re hugely important,” Warfield said. “But if the sciences were going to fix our world, they would have done so by now.” Music is estimated to be about 35,000 years old, math about 20,000 years old. Perhaps that STEM jab needs a re-evaluation? I love music and always have. But while it brings people together and delights the soul, it also has not “fixed our world” and has had longer to do it.