An innovative collaboration between Laredo Community College, Texas A&M International University and the Laredo Philharmonic Orchestra will help set the stage for a brighter future for the performing arts here.
Thursday morning, in ceremonies held at the new TAMIU Student Center rotunda, the three entities signed a Memorandum of Understanding that provides for an affiliation that is focused on providing the LPO with a stable environment in which it may flourish and continue to contribute to Laredo's arts scene.
Dr. Ray Keck, TAMIU president, said the affiliation provides the LPO with heretofore unavailable security and strong partners that share its vision.
"This is a win-win situation for all those involved in this affiliation. The LPO has a home and a supportive environment that will allow it to flourish; both University and College are able to expand their performing arts offerings and academic opportunities and the community at large has a dramatically enhanced opportunity to enjoy the artistry of the LPO through additional performance venues," Dr. Keck said.
Dr. Ramon Dovalina, LCC president, said the affiliation is a dramatic indicator of the power of higher education to unite to drive innovative solutions.
"This is an impressive example of how like-minded entities can work together to achieve a common goal, securing a future for the arts in Los Dos Laredos," Dovalina said, "Other cities are struggling to maintain their community orchestras, and in Laredo, we have the advantage of an educational partnership that will ensure that the LPO continues to benefit students and the communities we all proudly serve."
Theresa Nimchan, president of the LPO Board of Directors, said the affiliation is the answer to a prayer for the LPO.
"Having the advantage of a home, resources to assist us and entities that share our vision of a local performing orchestra that we can all learn from will enable us to focus our efforts on making the LPO a first-rate orchestra. This in turn, will enhance the quality of life here in Laredo. We see this affiliation as an answer to a prayer," Nimchan said.
Keck said he is unaware of any other collaborative effort state wide that taps into similar innovation.
"As we were developing this, we soon realized that this is a highly innovative effort that pairs a private city orchestra with a state university and a community college, something that we believe has not been done before. It's a pioneering undertaking and one we believe has historic implications," Keck added.
Specifically, the affiliation provides the LPO with furnished offices, services and utilities, employs a music director who will have a joint LCC-TAMIU academic appointment, provides performance opportunities and assistance with fundraising and publicity.
In return, the LPO will transfer its funds into a restricted account administered by the University, assist LCC and TAMIU in fundraising and publicity efforts while retaining its tax-exempt status, pay performing professionals from outside the University community with monies generated by fundraising, and create an annual performance calendar featuring presentations at both LCC and TAMIU and other approved venues.
The MOU establishes an Executive Council comprised of presidents and fine and performing arts department chairs from LCC and TAMIU and members of the executive committee of the LPO Board of Directors. This Executive Council will have final executive authority for all matters relating to the Orchestra.
The MOU also will assist in identifying employment opportunities for the orchestra's incumbent executive director and, when appropriate, employ additions to the professional staff as necessary to support the growth of both academic programs and enhance the LPO offerings. These individuals will hold joint appointments at both institutions, including tenure track positions at TAMIU.
The LPO has been part of the Laredo live music culture for over 20 years. Founded in 1980, the LPO has long focused on drawing from the talent of the community it serves and highlighting the unique bicultural flavor of the city. A key objective has been the broadening of musical education and appreciation in the city through the initiation of a successful Youth String Orchestra program in 1982. The program, which served the entire city, has seen many of its graduates go on to professional careers as musicians in Texas and across the nation.
Throughout its history, the LPO has benefited from the dedicated support of engaged board members and community partners who helped to contribute to its success and longevity.
It will soon announce its 2002-2003 performance season, featuring performances by Mexico's "Three Tenors," popular classical pianists Beatrice and Christina Long and a joint performance by the LPO and the Laredo Philharmonic Chorale featuring the works of Mexico's greatest classical and contemporary composers.
For additional information, contact the Laredo Philharmonic Orchestra at 727-8886 or visit the LPO web site at www.laredophilharmonic.org