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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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NMSU Music and Theatre Departments sharing the arts with the community

The Departments of Music and Theatre at New Mexico State University have an active participation within the community, giving children and young adults the opportunity to experience the fine arts.


The Theatre Department's Theatre for Young Audiences (TYA) program is a four-part program that provides elementary school performances, middle and high school matinee performances, study guides and department tours to area students.

In the last 23 years, TYA has provided free performances of live theatre to more than 110,000 elementary students and is now partnered with the Branigan Cultural Center's Another Planet: Voices from Las Cruces, N.M., program, the U.S. Forest Service in New Mexico, the Hatch School District, the Gadsden School District and Las Cruces Public Schools. The subject matter addressed in the productions has included multiculturalism, teen peer pressure, folk tales and classic fairy tales. This year alone, the department has provided 12 free performances for 4,085 students.

Teachers whose students attend these performances are given study guides with arts enrichment activities. The study guides are funded by grants from seven separate agencies as well as individual sponsors.

TYA has also provided special matinee performances for thousands of middle and high school students with reduced ticket prices at the Hershel Zohn Theatre on the NMSU campus. Performance discussion sessions, led by actors and directors, are held following the performances.

In addition, the department invites area students to NMSU to tour the department and engage in theatre-based activities such as acting games, stage combat demonstrations and technical theatre demonstrations.

Members of the theatre faculty provide services to the community, presenting acting workshops for middle and high school students and serving on arts committees, among other activities.

The Department of Music at NMSU offers several performances and events aimed at exposing local students to music and encouraging their development.

The Music in our Schools program is a joint effort between the Music Department and the Las Cruces Symphony in which musicians from the NMSU Faculty Brass Quintet, Faculty Woodwind Quartet, Percussion Ensemble and the Las Cruces Symphony String Quartet perform for elementary students.

The NMSU Symphonic Winds participated in the first Ysleta Independent School District Guest Artist Series this year, performing for students from Del Valle, Hanks, Riverside and Eastwood high schools. The ensemble gave two concerts in April which were held at the Ysleta Performing Arts Center in El Paso.

The NMSU Jazz Ensemble performs at the annual Mesilla Jazz Festival and hosts a high school Jazz Festival each spring. Twenty-five high school bands from across the Southwest participated in the event this year. In addition, every spring the NMSU Choirs host the Jack Ward Choral Festival. This year, more than 100 children from the Las Cruces area participated in the festival by preparing music with a guest clinician and performing two concerts in April.

The Music Department hosts the Mesilla Valley Concert Band, which features local musicians from all walks of life, and the New Horizons Concert Band, made up of area musicians ages 55 and older who have never played an instrument or haven't played in years. The bands rehearse weekly, perform five or six concerts a year at NMSU's Music Center Recital Hall and are directed by William Clark, professor of conducting and music education at NMSU.

Many faculty members in the Music Department visit local high schools to help the ensembles prepare for contests that are held during the spring semester and the faculty also is often asked to judge state and regional competitions in band, choir and jazz ensembles.