The official hub for news and stories from Colorado Mesa University
  • Calvin Hofer directs the CMU Wind Symphony during the Best of the West music festival

    Calvin Hofer directs the CMU Wind Symphony during the Best of the West music festival.

  • Darin Kamstra works with percussion student Autumn Kelly

    Darin Kamstra works with percussion student Autumn Kelly.

Hofer passes the baton to Professor of Jazz and Percussion Darin Kamstra

After a 17-year tenure as Head of the Department of Music at Colorado Mesa University, Calvin Hofer, DMA, will step down in order to focus on teaching for the institution and to continue nurturing projects that support student success and department growth. As the longest-serving department head currently on campus, Hofer has many achievements under his belt.

Under his direction, the music department went through two site visits by the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM) to become accredited. After the 2010 NASM site visit Hofer was invited to present at the NASM Conference on how to prepare an effective self-study. The presentation led to an invitation to be a site visit evaluator for NASM as well as an election by his peers to the NASM Commission on Accreditation. Hofer currently has two years left on his second term. 

Vice President for Academic Affairs Kurt Haas believes that Hofer’s joint pursuit of academic rigor and musical entrepreneurship was the right balance at the right time for the burgeoning arts programming at CMU.

“CMU’s music program has grown and thrived under Hofer at a time when music and the arts face national challenges. His commitment to accreditation and pursuit of academic rigor is the foundation for not only student and faculty recruitment, but many other good things happening in the arts here at CMU,” said Haas.

Hofer also initiated several community outreach projects, which have had an impact on raising funds for CMU student scholarships. In 2011, he started the Middle School Music Camp. This event attracted more than 200 campers in 2018, who participated in choir, orchestra and band in addition to enrichment courses. Middle School Music Camp raises about $10,000 per year in scholarships for CMU students.

In 2011, Hofer started the Grand Junction Rockestra. Hofer continues to direct the symphonic rock orchestra, which raises about $15,000 per year in scholarships.

“Dr. Hofer is a visionary when it comes to integrating an entrepreneurial spirit into the culture and curriculum of the Department of Music,” said CMU President Tim Foster. “The leadership of Dr. Hofer has inspired students to follow their artistic passions in a way that makes for a meaningful life while also making a living through music. Rockestra is just one example of the creativity Hofer has brought to CMU during his tenure.”

Hofer presided over immense growth in the Department of Music. During his tenure as department head, the number of music majors has tripled — reaching the highest level ever during the past two years. The amount of scholarship money raised and distributed has also tripled. Additionally, full-time faculty positions have increased from four to eleven and two new programs have been added to the department’s degree offerings. Based on recent data from the Higher Education Arts Data Services, the music department is in the 80th percentile for number of music majors per full-time faculty member at CMU, while in the 15th percentile for budget received.

“What I’ve loved most about being department head is working with great faculty and students towards a common goal of making beautiful music that enhances our community, and being a part of the institution’s and music department’s growth in enrollment, facilities and reputation,” said Hofer. “I look forward to focusing all of my energy and efforts on teaching and projects that will help the music department continue to move forward.”

Former Department Chair and Emeritus Professor of Music Monte Atkinson, DMA, expressed his gratitude for Hofer’s contributions to the department.

“Dr. Hofer has helped the music department accomplish so much, including finishing the beautiful Moss Performing Arts Center, which has been ranked in the top 25 performing arts facilities in the nation; helping to establish a fine marching band; and leading faculty in restructuring curricula into a forward looking 21st century music program,” said Atkinson.

Taking over the position of Head of the Department of Music is Professor of Music Darin Kamstra, DMA. Kamstra has served as director of jazz studies for 15 years. He directs jazz ensembles and teaches improvisation, percussion, pedagogy and music technology. He serves as principal timpanist/percussionist for the Grand Junction Symphony Orchestra; performs on drum set with the Grand Junction Rockestra and the CMU Faculty Jazz Quintet; and appears frequently as a percussion and jazz clinician and recitalist regionally and nationally. Kamstra also established Jazztopia Jazz Workshop for high school students and the CMU Jazz Festival, both of which are in their sixth years. As an active composer and arranger, Kamstra’s works are published by Tapspace, Walrus Music publications and Grand Mesa Music Publishers.

“I am honored to be appointed to this position and am touched by the confidence expressed by my colleagues during the nomination process,” said Kamstra. “The outpouring of support by friends and alumni has also been overwhelming. I look forward to building on the successes facilitated by Calvin Hofer’s dedicated leadership and look forward to finding opportunities to further strengthen the department.”

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