New music emphasis to debut

A major based on modern and pop music will be available starting fall 2016.


John Patrick Uy


Bethany Higa, Writer

Biola’s Conservatory of Music plans to add an additional music emphasis next semester: commercial music as a Bachelor of Arts concentration. Through this program, Biola’s music conservatory seeks to open opportunities for new forms of musical and spiritual expression.

Responding to Student Needs

The music conservatory chose to develop the commercial music concentration in response to student needs. Previously, the music in worship major was the only pop or contemporary music option, but this limited the students’ scope to solely a church ministry role. Those who wanted to learn more about modern music production, but did not necessarily see themselves as worship leaders, found limited resources in pursuing a commercial music career.

“I’m looking forward to seeing people challenge each other musically, seeing artists made in this program… [as] world-changers in the secular industry,” said Angel Ramirez, Jr., freshman music in worship major who plans to join the commercial music emphasis. “A lot of Christian musicians are catering towards Christians, but I want to be like a missionary in this art.”

Smooth Transition

Biola has discussed and prepared for this new emphasis over the past two years. The transition will be smooth because of the considerable overlap with the existing worship major. Many required classes will stay the same, and existing faculty members plan to teach the new courses in the program.

In addition, some courses in the commercial music program will be available to all students, such as the upcoming History of Rock and Roll class.

Expanded Opportunities

However, the commercial music emphasis will also provide more opportunities for performance and production, with more dedicated units of ensembles and private lessons. The conservatory seeks to place a higher emphasis on understanding modern music history and integrating a variety of genres, as well. As a result, a student interested in a specific style of music has the freedom to pursue their passion with a stable musical background.

“There should be diversity in this program, and I want to be able to have the fluidity within the curriculum where if we have a student that’s really into something, we go after it,” said Jeff Askew, assistant guitar professor.

Faith Integration

Although the commercial music concentration will operate mostly in the field of non-Christian music, it remains highly associated with Biola’s goal of a Christ-centered education. The classes will allow for unique ways of integrating students’ faith in their work and sharing it with the secular world.

“There are people now who can see themselves as salt and light in a community where there is a lot of darkness, and so they are out there playing in groups and being a Christian witness,” said George Boespflug, director of the music conservatory. “It’s a great opportunity for them to be a witness in what is a pretty secular environment… Musicians can do that when they play in orchestra, or chamber music, art concert music or even contemporary music.”

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