By: Johnna Slabaugh, Bicentennial Intern, Class of 2020, Nursing, South Bend
Throughout my months this summer as an IU Bicentennial intern at IU South Bend, I was able to interview many different alumni, faculty, and staff members as part of the Bicentennial Oral History Project. It was incredible to hear about all of the different perspectives of all the working parts of the university.
However my interview with Dr. Jorge Muñiz, Associate Professor of Composition and Theory in the Ernestine M. Raclin School of the Arts, really stood out to me.
Dr. Muñiz is an active composer and said he is grateful for the fact that the school values his creativity and work.
He was born in Switzerland; however most of his early life was spent in Oviedo, Spain–his parents are native Spaniards. Dr. Muñiz stated “I had a passion for listening to classical music since I was…two or three.” This led his parents to enroll him in piano lessons by age five.
He explained to me that in Europe, children interested in music begin intensive studying at a young age. He said “I would have to go to the conservatory in the evening…I had a very intensive study of music. Private teacher for my lessons in piano, regular classes of music history, theory…and that curriculum was ran separate from the high school.”
Dr. Muñiz began his post-secondary education at the Conservatory of Oviedo of Asturias in Spain. He received three Bachelors of Music there in piano, music, and theory. He also studied at the Royal Conservatory of Madrid in Spain and received his fourth Bachelor of Music in composition, his area of expertise.
He then moved to the US to continue with his graduate studies. He received his Master of Composition from Carnegie Mellon University and his Doctor of Musical Arts from the Manhattan School of Music in New York.
Upon completion of his doctorate, Dr. Muñiz joined the faculty at Manhattan School of Music for four years before accepting a position at IU South Bend in 2006. When I asked what made him decide to come here, he said that there were a number of factors.
He said “I felt that eventually thinking about kind of raising a family and I felt that a smaller place than New York City—I had lived there for six years—would be a much better place for that.” He also cited the fact that he would be able to continue composing, in addition to his teaching responsibilities.
Dr. Muñiz teaches composition and theory. He stated that he teaches a mposition study, which is a relatively small class with around six to nine students. He enjoys getting to know each student on a more personal level. He told me “My job as a composition teacher is to really get to know the students, understand them, so I can help them in making the best of their own language, what they’re creating.”
He also teaches private lessons and a general music theory course. In addition, he directs a professional group called Ensemble Concept/21 that he put together. Dr. Muñiz is responsible for coming up with the programming each season. Beginning in August 2017 he will become the chair of the music department in the Ernestine M. Raclin School of the Arts, a position he has previously held.
As a celebrated composer, Dr. Muñiz’s works have been performed all over the world, including Spain, Italy, France, Singapore, and Australia, as well as large cities in the US such as New York and Chicago. He has received many grants for his work, including the New Frontiers in the Arts from Indiana University. With this he composed an oratorio titled Requiem for the Innocent, which paid homage to the events of September 11th, 2001.
In the foreword of the piece, he stated “As a Spainard, I lived through many years of fear and experienced the horror and cruelty of the attacks of ETA, the Basque terrorist group…Requiem for the Innocent is a work that will attempt to fulfill this longing for control and peace, as a prayer for the souls of the departed, the victims of terrorism.” It was performed by the South Bend Symphony on October 2nd 2010.
He also spoke about the challenges of balancing being both an active composer and a professor.
Dr. Muñiz believes that IUSB has a duty to give back to the South Bend community. He stated that the concerts that the schools put on are a great way to involve citizens in the arts. He also discussed the fact that some of our high schools are lacking resources in the arts department and that it is crucial “To help our community, especially young students, perhaps high school students, to help the teachers in the area to have the resources to prepare them well.”
Muñiz appreciates the fact that South Bend faculty and staff value continued creativity after his hiring. He said that because we are an IU school we benefit from the regulations set forth by the administration of Bloomington.
He highlighted that these statutes ensure a high caliber of employees: “For our students, you come here, you get…faculty with a lot of experience that in some cases I would not find a difference between those faculty perhaps even at our large campus in Bloomington.”
However, he also stated that he enjoys the small-town feel of the university and that he gets to know his students on both a personal and a creative level.
Before the interview concluded, he made sure to state his appreciation for the university and all of the growth he has done while teaching at IU South Bend. When reminiscing on his desires for the kind of college he wanted to educate at, he said “I didn’t want to come to a place just to teach my lessons, or my classes, I wanted to grow with the place and Indiana University has given me that.”
Listen to one of his compositions here:
Curriculum Vitae: IU South Bend Faculty Publications: Dr. Jorge Muñiz, Music Collection, Indiana University South Bend Archives.
Dillingham, Kate, et al. Crossings: New Music for Cello. New York: New Focus Recordings, 2015. https://iub.naxosmusiclibrary.com/mediaplayer/player.asp?br=128&tl=2182331
Lynn, Daniel. Jorge Muñiz. Web. 17 Jul 2017.
Muñiz, Jorge. IU Bicentennial Interview. 31 May 2017.