More Answers from Cheryl Boga

Cheryl Boga talks more about Jesuit education and the arts.

Cheryl Boga
Cheryl Boga

The Scranton Journal interviewed Cheryl Boga, director of Performance Music. The original article is here

This year, you celebrated your 35 years with a Performance Music Alumni Reunion. Why do you appreciate those alumni?

Our alumni helped build this, think through this, establish this, grow this. It wasn’t “me, me, me.” It was “us, us, us,” all the way through.

Take, for example, the World Premiere Series. Rob Kapilow said to me that there’s nothing like it in the country. It started because I had a crazy idea. I wanted to meet [Václav] Nelhybel, and I said, “Hey, let’s get him to write a piece.” That would’ve been the end of that at most places. But everyone helped, from vice presidents to students to students’ parents (Thanks, Tom Lanahan!). This is everybody’s thing.

Why do you believe in Jesuit education?

The extension of cura personalis — to me — is the single most important thing, no matter what you’re doing in any field. I think it is the single most important key to success. The fact that at Scranton it is the right thing to do, makes this a great fit.

How can your work with students change how people see the arts?

In this day and age, American musicians don’t receive government funding/subsidies or even the support of record labels the way they once did. And new technologies make it easy for everyone to steal their work product without even realizing they’re stealing. The ability of our artists to continue to produce work that at the same time reflects and impacts, and both mirrors and transforms our society’s culture, depends upon our having a populace who is educated and informed, and who has an interest in and commitment to the arts.

Our musicians and artists need to be afforded both the freedom and inspiration to create AND the financial stability to eat. So how does it happen? How do people develop an appreciation for the arts and learn why they are important for our society and its citizenry to fund? I think it’s by doing it themselves. They develop a personal connection and commitment by making music themselves. They learn not only what it means to them, how it impacts their lives and gives them another way to express themselves, but also what a special gift professional musicians must have, how hard they must work to develop and maintain it, and how important their work is to our national culture and the individuals it impacts and transforms.

Tell me about your kids, who are both musicians.

Our daughter, Magdalyn (Maggie), who holds degrees from The University of Scranton and Duquesne University, has an incredible operatic voice, is an excellent cellist, and plays French horn and a variety of other instruments well. Mags teaches American history here, assists with our Performance Music programs, sings professionally and has also recently started an instrumental music program at Scranton Preparatory School. (She’s hooked on Ignatian education, too.)

Our son, Joseph, graduated from The Juilliard School with a degree in trumpet and is a well-respected professional musician, who performs both classical and jazz music nationally and internationally, and still contributes to our programs here by guest performing, offering masterclasses, and working with our brass students when he is in town.

When Maggie was 3 years old, I remember her saying to her preschool teacher, “So, what instrument do you play?” Her teacher said, “I don’t play an instrument.” Maggie said, “Ha, ha. That’s so funny. But, really, what do you play?”

At the Performance Music Reunion, it was as though they were seeing family members they hadn’t seen in years. My alumni were babysitters when my kids were young enough to need babysitters. They were the people who taught my kids how to make mischief. They were the people who taught them how to lie to me when they were teenagers.

The original Q&A with Boga, in which she discusses everything from how it all began to how long she intends to stay at the University, is here

See photos of the Performance Music Reunion and read about it here.

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