Colombian faculty visit former students at Northwestern State

colombianvisitors2Colombian performing arts students from Comfenalco Cartagena have enriched Northwestern State University’s School of Creative and Performing Arts since an exchange agreement was reached in 2011.

The nearly 50 Colombian students received a visit from a handful of their old mentors recently as Colombian professors made an 11-day visit to the campus.

Colombian bassoon and oboe professors attended NSU’s Double Reed Day workshop, which included interpretation of a Colombian quintet arrangement, among various activities on their tour.

“We wanted them to participate and observe classes, and they engaged in playing and conversation with our faculty and students,” said Dr. Greg Handel, interim dean of Northwestern State’s College of Arts and Sciences and director of the School of Creative and Performing Arts. “We hope that they can take the experiences back and advance the mission of (Comfenalco Cartagena).

“The director of their Philharmonia guest conducted the NSU Symphony, and this was a wonderful indication of how music transcends language and provides everyone a deeper understanding of the emotion in music.”

Comfenalco professor Alvaro Hernandez said he enjoyed seeing the progress of his students in a collegiate setting.

“I’ll have great memories of seeing the artistic evolution that our students have had, both on musical and personal levels,” Hernandez said. “I’m proud of them because they have opened possibilities for other fellow students of our institution to follow the same positive path they have taken.

“We had a very enriching visit academically and personally, and Northwestern State University is supremely organized with a high academic and humanistic focus. They have high quality professors who demonstrate professional ethics not only in their methodologies but also because they treat their students as if they were their own children.”

The Colombian students, who participate in NSU’s early start program, have excelled in the music program.

Most recently, three Colombian students were featured in the six-student McCutcheon Honors Recital, which selects the best performers from the fall.

While music may be universal, methods for producing the sound can differ around the world.

Professor Rosana Salgado Cruz said she learned about the construction of American reeds, which differed from European reeds used in Colombia.

“It’s necessary for my students to know and learn about it, so those that receive these scholarships to Northwestern State can be ready,” Salgado Cruz said. “Dr. Handel and (Executive Vice President for University and Business Affairs) Marcus Jones as well as all the administrators and teachers were very attentive and made us feel like we were a part of the community and institution during our visit.

“We are grateful for this enriching experience as well as for the exemplary education and protection they have given our Colombian students.”