In A Year of Challenges, SMTD Experiences Great Support

Support for the arts has never been higher, both internally and externally
– Dan Goble

Building on a $1M anonymous gift in 2018 to enhance the acoustics and AV in the University Center for the Arts, Cindy Haraway “Boomer” has recently donated a generous cash gift to upgrade the acoustics in the Instrument Rehearsal Hall (IRH). “It’s a wonderful surprise in a year that’s been challenging,” says Dan Goble, director of the School of Music, Theatre, and Dance. “This gift will allow us to provide faculty, students, and the community with a rehearsal space with outstanding acoustics.” The goal is for the acoustics in IRH to be as similar as possible to Griffin Concert Hall.

Originally built to support the musical needs of a 200+ person marching band, the IRH was part of the Griffin concert hall wing before the full UCA renovation. The marching band needed an indoor space to practice (once daylight savings comes and the natural light goes out) and one that wouldn’t damage their hearing. When the IRH was completed in 2008, it was the largest rehearsal hall in Colorado.

“It’s a really nice space for a marching band,” says Goble, “but the acoustics need to be reworked for more diverse groups.” For example, performers in wind ensembles and orchestras really struggle to hear one another in the IRH.

Giving to the School of Music, Theatre, and Dance

Calendar Year 2020 to date


from 362 donors

348 cash gifts, 1 gift in kind, 15 pledges, 4 wills/bequests

Instrumental Rehearsal Hall
Instrumental Rehearsal Hall at the University Center for the Arts

This is where Cindy “Boomer” comes in. Cindy is a clarinetist, a member of the Fort Collins Wind Symphony, a graduate of CSU from 1972, and former owner of Boomer Music, a local Fort Collins music store. Thirty years ago, Cindy, Bill Runyan (1973-2004, Emeritus faculty), and Jana Shader Thomas (Cindy’s stand partner and owner of an instrument repair shop near Boomer Music) started the Fort Collins Wind Symphony. “When Griffin Hall was built, it was a dream to perform in, but we rehearsed in the IRH and the acoustics were terrible,” she says.

“I want to improve the IRH so that people will love to rehearse there,” she says. “And I wondered, why not give money while I still can enjoy it?”

Cindy’s connection to CSU is lifelong. Her sister attended CSU in the late 60s and Cindy loved visiting the campus. As a freshman, she was honored to be asked to play in the Fort Collins Symphony. “Will Schwartz (1949-2002, Emeritus faculty) introduced me to Brahms and other orchestral works. He was a very dear friend and very inspirational in my music career.”

Rosebud statue
Statue named "Rosebud: In celebration of the universal spirit of music" graciously donated to the UCA by Cindy Haraway

She decided to major in music education, but didn’t really want to teach. So at the age of 26, she took a loan from her father and started her shoestring music business in a 600-square-foot spot on College and Laurel (where the Music District is now located). Her CSU clarinet teacher, Ray George – whose nickname was Boomer, was the inspiration for the store’s name. “Boomer was a community effort; everyone contributed to it.” From CSU faculty to local school music teachers to students and community members, Cindy’s store was well supported. “I got to know all the musicians in town,” she says. She expanded the store four times over 22 years before selling it.

In addition to the FC Symphony and the FC Wind Symphony, Cindy has played with a woodwind quintet, the Loveland concert band, and the Northern Colorado concert band. “My love of music inspires me. Music is my life,” she says.

“It’s all sentimental for me,” says Cindy about her gift. “The UCA is our music home; that beautiful facility has contributed to the success of the wind symphony. And Fort Collins is a great music town.”

“Cindy has always been such a great supporter of SMTD. She’s an avid performance goer. She loves the students and cares deeply about them,” says Goble.

Note: The acoustical redesign may take two-three years to complete. In Spring 2021, an acoustician who has worked on projects such as the Kennedy Center and Jazz at Lincoln Center will assess the space. After that assessment, renovation and upgrade plans will be drafted.

The School of Music, Theatre, and Dance has seen an incredible amount of generosity during 2020. In addition to Cindy Haraway "Boomer"’s gift, two planned gifts – at $19.1M total – have been given to support scholarships, faculty, and programs from jazz to strings to music therapy.

Such financial support, especially in the realm of scholarships, helps the SMTD to be competitive with CSU’s peers who often have significant funding to recruit the very best, most talented students. “There’s an expectation among talented SMTD prospective students that they will receive talent-based scholarship offers from every school,” says Goble. “Elevating the level of performing arts at CSU commensurate to the Research I designation we have is an important strategic goal. And the high performing level of a core of talented students elevates the educational and creative experience of every student in the school.”

The other areas of the school are also thriving.

CSU Theatre

Instead of feeling the loss from not presenting a traditional play, the Theatre program tackled a new challenge of their first-ever full-length film, Concord Floral.
Instead of feeling the loss from not presenting a traditional play, the Theatre program tackled a new challenge of their first-ever full-length film, Concord Floral.

CSU Theatre has seen an increase in enrollment, is working on developing a musical theater program through Noah Racey’s work, and recently hired a new director, Megan Lewis. In addition, they’ve pivoted during the pandemic to provide theater productions via livestream, whether that’s Boy Meets Girl (a play performed and shown online) or Concord Floral (a film production).

“When theatre folks say ‘the show must go on,’ they really mean it,” says Lewis. “I am immensely impressed with the can-do spirit, the technical savvy, and the flexibility with which we as a department adapted to the restrictions of the pandemic on the performing arts. We capitalized on our live theatre creativity and essentially become a film school overnight!” The caliber and innovation of our two shows this Fall – Boy Gets Girl (directed by Walt Jones), which elevated the Zoom platform to new heights, and Concord Floral (directed by Saffron Henke, designed and filmed by Roger Hanna, and edited by Price Johnston), a full feature film of the playscript – was astounding. “I am so proud to work with my talented colleagues, who did not let a pandemic hinder us…but instead brought out all the creative stops!”

CSU Dance

CSU Dance students

CSU Dance continues to grow from the solid foundation that Jane Slusarki-Harris (1988-2018; Emeritus faculty) put in place. Emily Morgan, director of dance, and the faculty are expanding their curriculum, now offering a BFA in dance, their enrollment, and their scholarship offerings. They, too, have pivoted their teaching and performances to accommodate physical distancing needed to maintain health.

“These changes resulted in new and exciting creative work from the dance students,” says Morgan. “Instead of creating dances for the stage, senior dance majors created dances for film, learning to film and edit in addition to their usual task of choreographing a group dance. In February 2021, the Body/Speak concert will feature a new series of dances for film.

Dancers are resilient and adaptable, learning new skills to keep creating new dances.”

Additional Gifts to the School of Music, Theatre, and Dance

Additional gifts this year include:

  • An additional contribution from Cynthia Mousel to the Irmel Louise Fagan Dance Scholarship
  • The Karen M. and John F. Nystrom Scholarship for a voice student.
    "Opera at CSU moved us. For more than twenty years, we attended performances, voice recitals, faculty recitals and other events. Neither of us were opera "buffs" - lacking knowledge about the intricacies of opera. But, ahh - the voices - so pure as to transport us to another plane and level of emotion. We watched and listened, over those years, as CSU exponentially improved its voice program, attracting higher quality students and faculty. I hope that this endowment may encourage students to use their gift of voice to transport listeners to higher, emotionally meaningful levels of awareness in their lives." – John Nystrom
  • Additional support for the Kenney/Schwartz Graduate Performance String Scholarship Endowment, given by Brent and Nina Mecham in honor of their father, H. Wesley Kenney II

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