The mission of MUSE is to heighten the awareness of underrepresented musical voices who have contributed to the tradition of Western art music and to equip the Shepherd community with the tools to address the issues specific to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. Through our work, we hope to foster a healthy, safe, and proactive environment that is adaptable to the evolving field of music.
In response to social events in the summer of 2020, former Shepherd School of Music Dean Robert Yekovich wrote the following: "Our challenge to effectively eradicate systemic racism and social injustice in America stands before us in clear view. The Shepherd School of Music at Rice University, as a school dedicated to enabling gifted, young musicians to reach their full potential, is committed to using any and all means available to us to confront these issues and effect meaningful and sustainable change, consistent with our mission."
In response to the same events, an impressive group of students and alumni of the Shepherd School formed Shepherd Equity. This group gathered over the summer of 2020 in town hall meetings, created surveys, collected data, and published a list of online resources to advocate for a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive future for our shared institution.
The Shepherd School created a task force charged with increasing our understanding of how racism manifests itself in the world of classical music and recommending ways that the school might use its educational and programmatic resources to eliminate it. The name chosen for the task force was Musicians United for Social Equality (MUSE). Assistant Dean Geoffrey Scott and Professor Kurt Stallmann are acting as MUSE co-chairs.
As co-chairs, Scott and Stallmann prepared by aligning the task force mission with Rice University's goals and resources, the goals of Shepherd Equity, and with the Houston community. To gather information, they initiated several meetings with members of Rice University administration, Shepherd School alumni, members of the Houston community, and representatives from music programs across the United States.