BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – Music is a powerful form of communication that can bring people together.

Art builds bridges between people by creating empathy. When reading a book, you literally put yourself into someone else’s shoes, and most of the time those characters are quite different from who we are. Music does the same thing.

Ana Maria Otamendi, associate professor of collaborative piano at the LSU College of Music and Dramatic Arts

Ana Maria Otamendi, associate professor of collaborative piano at the LSU College of Music and Dramatic Arts said, “We can all be united by the feelings that music arises in each one of us, since our pains, our love and our longing are often the same.”

But money problems and environment can keep musicians from taking classes or accessing resources. A $10,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts aims to help with that. LSU is using the funds to host a summer lecture series June 4-24.

The program will benefit minority and low-income musicians. The eight guest lecturers are expert musicians and identify as Black or Indigenous Persons of Color. They will lead more than 70 lectures, discussions, master classes and live performances. Students from around the world will get private lessons and ensemble coaching sessions.

Summer program designed to inspire budding musicians

Elena Lacheva, a professional in residence at the LSU College of Music and Dramatic Arts, said this program is important to people from all walks of life.

“Is it the cultural background that presents these challenges? I don’t think so.” Lacheva said, “ I believe it is the socio-economic environment that predicts whether resources will be available to a budding musician or not. Simply said, without sponsored music programs at school to introduce and nurture music-making from early childhood, it’s the financial situation of a family that will cause challenges to learning and growing in the craft.”

Otamendi added that the Collaborative Piano Institute will provide some low-income candidates with scholarships. This financial aid will be provided, “so they can not only meet and explore the minds of professional musicians in lessons and conversations but be inspired to imagine what role music will play in their lives.”

Otamendi and Lacheva began their musical journeys at the age of 5. Over the years, they’ve seen how music can enrich life.

“Music is a Mardi Gras parade, a break-up, Christmas on the radio in October, prom night, commuting, father and bride dance, coffee break, anniversary dinner, horror movie jump cut, lullaby, communion, suffrage, belonging,” said Lacheva. “For every emotion, there is a sound, and when ordered and shared, it electrifies life. Take music away, and the deafening silence will break our fragile humanity.”

LSU’s guest musicians to perform live during free events

This June, the free Starry Nights Concert Series will be open to the community. The concerts will be at the Recital Hall of the LSU School of Music on Dalrymple and Infirmary Drive. Exact dates and times will be available on in May.

BRProud’s full interview with Otamendi and Lacheva is in the document below.