The University of Iowa

Global collaboration enriches educational experience of bass students

May 6th, 2021

A recent collaboration between the University of Iowa School of Music and the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance (JAMD) has created opportunities for global exchange for bass students at both institutions.

Image of UI Professor Volkan Orhon

UI Professor Volkan Orhon

The idea for the collaboration stemmed from a conversation between long-time colleagues UI Professor Volkan Orhon and JAMD Professor Michael Klinghoffer. The two met while they were studying music at the Hartt School of Music (University of Hartford) in Connecticut. Orhon came to the school from Turkey; Klinghoffer from Israel. The two became friends and kept in touch as their academic and performance careers progressed.

While checking-in with each other during the early days of the COVID pandemic, Orhon and Klinghoffer discussed ways to make the most of virtual educational platforms necessitated by COVID. That conversation led to the creation of two master classes for bass students at both schools; Orhon leading a master class at JAMD; Klinghoffer leading a master class at the UI.

Image of JAMD Professor Michael Klinghoffer

JAMD Professor Michael Klinghoffer

Klinghoffer’s master class at Iowa took place on December 9, 2020. In advance of the class, three UI bass students volunteered to perform a piece and then receive both technical and musical feedback from Klinghoffer via Zoom. Bass students at all levels were invited to listen to the feedback and then participate in a question/answer session with Klinghoffer, so the opportunities for global exchange extended well beyond the three volunteers. “Different perspectives provide really valuable information,” says Orhon. “The master class provides a unique setting and provides a chance to open up our minds to other people and experiences—it’s a chance to connect with people around the world.”

Image of UI DMA student Will Yager

UI DMA student Will Yager

Will Yager, UI DMA student, was one of three students to volunteer to perform during the master class with Klinghoffer, choosing the piece Glances Full of Muted Colors by James May. "Working with Professor Klinghoffer provided an opportunity to share a brand-new composition and benefit from his point of view. Any perspective on artistic practice or thought is informed by the totality of a person's lived experience, so viewpoints rooted in other cultures have great value. Opportunities like this master class provide a space for different cultures to be in conversation with one another through the shared practice of music making,” says Yager.

Orhon’s master class at JAMD will take place on May 6, 2021, and will take a similar format as Klinghoffer’s master class at Iowa. When asked what he hopes students will gain from the experience, Klinghoffer responded, “I hope they will gain new insights into the music, I hope that they will learn from each other as people living in different cultures and I hope that they will notice slight nuances that might come from the way different languages manifest in the music.”

Orhon hopes to continue to incorporate global exchange opportunities for his students. “One positive to come out of the COVID pandemic is that it sparked creativity in terms of reaching out to bring different perspectives into the classroom,” says Orhon. “Also, Zoom provides a wonderful opportunity because there aren’t travel costs associated with it. It also allows for global exchange without the difficulty of traveling with an instrument as large as the bass.”

Klinghoffer mentioned another benefit to the collaboration between the UI and JAMD, saying, “What people have in common is much more and much greater than the differences. There is no better way to understand than through music making.”