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Colburn School names new president

July 9, 2009 |  2:30 pm

SelKardan Sel Kardan, president and chief executive officer of the Music Institute of Chicago since 2005, has been named president of downtown's Colburn School, overseeing the Colburn School of Performing Arts and the elite Colburn Conservatory of Music.

Kardan assumes the new post in September.

Kardan replaces Miguel Angel Corzo, who abruptly resigned in October after serving as president since July 2007. Corzo previously served as president of the University of Arts in Philadelphia and as director of the Getty Conservation Institute.

In the past couple of years, the Colburn School has experienced strife as parents of students in the Colburn School of Performing Arts -- a community school that mainly serves students who do not plan a professional career -- have protested that too many resources have been diverted to the development of the conservatory, whose approximately 110 students receive free room and board and are considered to have the chops to make it in the competitive professional music arena.

In September 2007, parents were up in arms because the addition of a $120-million structure to the Colburn's Grand Avenue campus created parking limitations for students commuting downtown for music lessons or community programs. A year later, some parents hotly protested the elimination of the community school's Suzuki piano program.

Miguel Angel Corzo In an interview Thursday, Kardan told Culture Monster that his experience at the Music Institute of Chicago, one of the nation's oldest community music schools, would serve him in reconciling the perceived differences in the goals of Colburn's community and professional programs.

"I think the Colburn School has the potential to have the best of both worlds -- from the standpoint of the community school, having access to faculty, students and resources of an internationally renowned conservatory,"  Kardan said.

"And from the concept of the conservatory, students may pursue careers in performing but also teaching; there is no single focused classical music career anymore," Kardan continued. "Students in the conservatory have the advantage of exposure and participation in arts education and the community school. Whether it's a more formal relationship or something a little more ad hoc, I think the potential for a very, very happy relationship exists."

Added Kardan: "There are always growing pains with a new facility. Colburn was a community school that added a conservatory, rather than the other model where a conservatory adds a community school -- that's one of the many things that is unique to Colburn."

-- Diane Haithman

Photos:  Sel Kardan. Credit: David Joel; former Colburn School President Miguel Angel Corzo on the campus. Credit: Ken Hively / Los Angeles Times.