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CSU-Pueblo music professor conducts/teaches in China

Release Date: May 18, 2017

Cora Zaletel

Executive Director, External Affairs

Colorado State University-Pueblo


Colorado State University-Pueblo music professor conducts/teaches in China

PUEBLO – A Colorado State University-Pueblo music professor has spent the last year in East Asia, conducting and assisting bands and symphony orchestras made up of musicians from primary school age to professional. Dr. Alan W. Mills, associate professor and director of bands, is serving a one-year residency in the Culture and Art Education Center of the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China, located in Chengdu. As a visiting adjunct professor, he is conducting the University Symphony Orchestra and teaching classes in Classical Western Music and Jazz History.

This fall, he will return for his 10th year at CSU-Pueblo as conductor of the Wind Ensemble, director of the University Band and ThunderWolves Marching Band, as well as instructor of music education classes.

Earlier this month, he conducted the Beijing Wind Orchestra (BWO), one of a small handful of professional concert bands in China that are not military bands. The concert was held in the Beijing Concert Hall, often considered to be one of two premier concert venues in the capital city of Beijing. This concert coincided with the May 1st holiday in China known as May Day, which is similar to Labor Day in America. The “Starry Night” concert included music that has been featured in many Oscar-winning films such as Star Wars as well as music by composers such as Mozart, Rossini, and Bernstein. The concert also featured a multi-media aspect as film clips were displayed over the stage.

Mills has been actively engaged in other off-campus activities, including work with the concert band at Sichuan College Conservatory of Music (SCCM). In addition to rehearsal clinics with local school bands and orchestras, he has worked with two Chengdu international schools, serving as a festival adjudicator and assisting with music teacher development as well as coaching quintets with the Sichuan Symphony Orchestra.

In January and February 2017, he also completed residencies in Taipei, Taiwan, and Singapore, where he served as a rehearsal clinician for bands ranging from primary school to college age.

Mills said the year-long experience has improved his communications skills, both musically and in spoken language, as he is now able to run rehearsals in Chinese without a translator. He said he also has had to learn to adjust his expectations and be extremely flexible because in the Chinese culture, important decisions can be made with little or no warning, and you must adjust quickly.

He said the experience will positively affect how his children treat others the rest of their lives, a difficult concept to teach in a school classroom.

“My family will forever be impacted by this experience,” Mills said, “and we know that our children will grow up with a better appreciation of world cultures.”

Later this month, Mills will visit Bangkok, Thailand, to continue his clinic work with bands. This year has also included three visits Shenzhen, China (located near Hong Kong), several trips to Beijing, and a concert in the Grand Theater in Bau Tou, China, located northwest west of Beijing. Since 2004, he has made nearly a dozen visits to Beijing and will return there for a two-week residency in June. Collectively, he has completed more than 100 band and orchestra rehearsal clinics in China alone.

Colorado State University - Pueblo is committed to excellence, setting the standard for regional comprehensive universities in teaching, research, and service by providing leadership and access for its region, while maintaining its commitment to diversity.


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