College of Liberal Arts

- University of Mississippi

Music professor creates Living Music Resource

BY CODY MYERS
Courtesy of The Daily Mississippian

Nancy María Balach

Nancy María Balach

With the support of The University of Mississippi, a music professor has created a new online resource for musicians that is steadily gaining traction in the music world.

In September of 2013 the website Living Music Resource first launched. Its founder, Nancy Maria Balach, is a professor in the music department. She was given the go ahead to begin the project with a sabbatical from the university.

The website is an online database of concise video interviews on key singer issues, currently featuring living composers and singers. It is designed to be a research and learning tool for music professors and students.

Balach said her inspiration for the site began in 2005 while she was interviewing composers for another project. While teaching a music course at the university, her interest and motivation increased. She said that when she asked her students to do some research, they would go straight to YouTube and have little to no idea what they were listening to in the example. They would also have to listen to long interviews or video clips just to get a small amount of useful information out of it.

One of her goals is to change the way music students and people view classical music. She focuses on interviewing and listing living, current composers and singers.

“I think that LMR is going to be this thing that upholds the traditions of the past but embraces the technology and thought processes of the current century that we’re in,” Balach said.

Plans for the website include the live streaming of interviews with artists who give feedback to viewers in partnership with the Ford Center. The website currently has two interview events coming up that are designed to get professors on board with Living Music Resource as a tool for their students. The events are part of Living Music Resource’s Beat interview series, and the first is being held in the Ford Center March 25 with composer Sara Carina Graef. A second event is planned for May 2 with composer William Bolcom and singer Joan Morris.

Living Music Resource also gives several students the ability to help with it. Currently Balach has two music students interning. Sophomore Heather Higginbotham is volunteering, and sophomore Claudia Salcedo has worked with Balach to get service hours needed for the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College.

“I first got involved with Living Music Resource when I was discussing with Ms. Balach, who is also my voice teacher, about how I needed service hours for the honors college and if it would be possible to complete them through LMR,” Salcedo said. “Even after I completed my hours, I still enjoy participating with LMR in any way I can.”

In addition to completing other tasks, Salcedo has been charged with collecting contacts for Living Music Resource.

“It involved picking a state, going to each university’s website and collecting music faculty members’ names, emails and area of expertise (specifically, opera, voice and/or composition),” she said.

Balach said she will continue to add artists to the database several times over the course of every year.

“I’d say four people a year, at a minimum being added,” she said. “Again, that’s all contingent on having more staff.”

For now, the website is free. Balach said she thinks that someday schools may pay a small fee so their students can use it for free. Other individuals might also have to pay a nominal fee to use the website, but she maintains that she wishes it to stay free as long as possible.

The first Beat interview is March 25 from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the Ford Center.