Garth Alper is Interim Director of the UL School of Music, and led the Department through accreditation. ultoday.com interviewed Garth recently.

Tell us about the UL School of Music.

One of the important things about our School is the diversity of programs we offer. Not only do we have strong traditional programs in performance, music education, and theory & composition, but we also have programs like music media, which is geared toward music technology and contemporary music, as well as things like jazz studies and piano pedagogy. And then we have a strong masters program in many of those areas. 

And right in line with that, an important initiative is the recently funded chair in traditional music, the Tommy Comeaux Chair. That was something the whole community has rallied around to bring to fruition. That's going to bring national and international attention to the Music program. While the details haven't been worked out, there will be a great opportunity for research and the promotion of traditional music. It's these sorts of avenues, the less traditional avenues, that UL has been more amenable to than some other universities.

We also have many ensembles in the School of Music that are very strong, and which represent the University to the public. Consider the Marching Band, the Jazz Ensemble, the Orchestra, the Wind Ensemble, and the Big Bang percussion concert. Most everyone has experienced one of more of these, so they bring the community into events that promote the University, and that serve as aids to UL's development.

The Percussion Department has been one of our powerhouses.

One of the interesting transitions was the losing of Jeff Prosperie to the military; not many schools of music find themselves losing faculty to enter US Military Academy performance groups [Jeff is now a Staff Sergeant with the Hellcats bugle & rudimental drum ensemble]. Fortunately, our new percussion coordinator, Troy Breaux has returned to UL after teaching at several other colleges. He's an extremely strong performer and teacher. The percussion division has at least as many, if not more students of the same or better caliber as we had with Jeff, so Jeff left us in a very good position.

And not only are our offerings diverse, but the research that our faculty is involved in is broad and varied We have performers, composers, media artists, as well as the more traditional research, i.e. books & articles. For the size faculty we have, we really produce an impressive amount of work.

And I should note that coming up this Spring, the School of Music is collaborating with the Department of Performing Arts and the Acadiana Symphony Orchestra to state Georges Bizet's opera, Carmen.

You mentioned research. What are you working on right now?

I just had an article accepted in College Music Symposium, that argues for bringing popular music into University curricula. I'm a Jazz musician by training, but I also spent quite a few years playing pop music (any gig I could get!)

I'm also a reader and a contributor to Popular Music & Society, a journal discussing the social importance of popular music.