The Southern Miss School of Music is now considered “EPIC.”
The Kawai Corporation of America named The University of Southern Mississippi School of Music to its roster of Elite Performing Instrument Collection (EPIC) schools.
Director of the School of Music Michael Miles said this speaks about the high quality education at the School of Music.
“Becoming an EPIC school sends a very clear message to our students, faculty and patrons that this institution is dedicated to providing the highest quality of education to our students,” Miles said.
“High performance standards in our music programs must be met with equally high standards for our instrument inventory, and Kawai instruments meet those standards in every way possible,” he added.
According to an article on the School of Music’s website, the Elite Performing Instrument Collection is a unique institutional program made possible by the Shigeru Kawai Endowment. Qualifying institutions are given the opportunity to acquire an elite assortment of fine Kawai and Shigeru Kawai instruments at sponsored cost levels. This status ranks the school among other EPIC programs including the Conservatoire de Musique du Quebec and the Interlochen Center for the Arts in Michigan.
Southern Miss is the only university in Mississippi to receive the EPIC designation. Because of this designation, the School of Music will receive 33 new Kawai pianos, which will comprise half the instruments in the department.
In a ceremony held Oct. 29 in the Trent Lott Center, Miles commented on the strength of the school as a whole.
“Today we stand in the presence of one of our beautiful Shigeru grand pianos to celebrate not just our EPIC status, but the School of Music’s resolve in the wake of the storm to come back stronger than ever,” Miles said.
According to the Hattiesburg American, Southern Miss School of Music reached EPIC status by reaching the halfway point of its piano replacement partnership with Kawai, which was a $500,000 agreement decided in 2011.
In this agreement, Southern Miss launched a 10-year partnership with Kawai Corporation to replace 75 percent of its 85 pianos through a loaner program that allowed the School of Music to purchase 10 borrowed pianos at a time for a discounted price.
Because of the Feb. 10 tornado, USM President Rodney Bennett requested money from the Mississippi Legislature to help with instrument repair and replacement and the school was granted $1.1 million for this purpose. The School of the Music was able to purchase 24 new pianos in addition to the 10 pianos that were previously purchased.
Bennett said he didn’t mind asking the legislature for money for the School of Music.
“What I’ve learned throughout my life is that it is the music and the arts that sustains us through life’s journey,” Bennett said. “It separates us from the madness that we sometimes have to encounter.”
According to an article on the School of Music’s website, the school was given a complete electronic piano teaching laboratory with 16 student keyboards and a master teaching piano valued at approximately $54,000 as a gift for reaching EPIC status.
“Our students, faculty and patrons will reap the benefits of EPIC status for years to come as we train future generations of musical artists and educators,” Miles said.
He said the target date for opening the two School of Music performance venues, Marsh Auditorium and Mannoni Performing Arts Center, is March 1.
For more information, visit www.usm.edu/music.