Artist of the Month - May 2016
Arts Council Menifee
Jeremy Brown is a professional percussionist who took his musical skills into the classroom at Mt. San Jacinto Community College in 2007 at its San Jacinto campus. He soon became an assistant professor at the Menifee Valley Campus and took over the duties of music department chair. Most recently, he has been serving as interim dean of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.
Brown was recently named the Arts Council Menifee Artist of the Month for May for his contributions to the college and the community. He keeps his love for music, especially jazz, alive by performing at local venues.
“Artists need an audience; they need promotion of their work. Local artists need celebration of their work and exposure,” Brown said. “Arts Council Menifee shares local arts with the population of Menifee. It helps educate youngsters and keeps aspiring and successful artists active.”
Brown said he has enjoyed every interaction with the leaders of Arts Council Menifee.
“Their heart is in the enrichment of this community and as the city grows, they have an opportunity to play a key role in steering the cultural life of its citizens,” he said.
Brown started his musical career as a rock drummer and still enjoys playing all types of music. His father was a concert pianist and his mother was a classically trained singer. Both teach at universities so Brown grew up in an academic music world.
“The arts make our hearts soar in abstract and complicated ways that elevate our minds; arts inspire; they also illustrate the history of expression in world culture,” Brown explained. “History is often told by the victors, but the arts are a way that every person can contribute to the story of a people. Jazz is the classic American example that illustrates the diversity, industry, excellence and inventiveness of our society. The arts challenge us to reach greater heights, too. Since no work of art is absolutely perfect, there is always room to improve on a work. Just imagine how that translates into other walks of life.”
Beginning in high school, Brown said playing with jazz ensembles were the most important part of his education – and the most fun.
“Jazz is absolutely my favorite genre to teach, write, perform – though jazz encompasses a huge variety of musical styles,” said Brown, who has lived in Temecula for nearly 10 years.
Under his guidance, MSJC’s music department was expanded and continues to grow.
“The jazz ensemble had already been the premier group of the college, but under my direction we broadened its repertoire to include more diverse styles, more serious artistic jazz and challenging full-big-band literature. The band recorded a professionally produced CD,” said Brown, 39.
Local pianist and Arts Council Menifee member Edie Schmoll, who took several classes from Brown at MSJC, shared her perspective.
“He has an amazing personality, talent on various instruments and his students hang on his every word and hate to depart his classes. In short, he is an unforgettable person,” said Schmoll, of Sun City. “When critiquing a student’s performance, he never criticizes but rather offers suggestions for improvement.”
Now that Brown serves the music department in an administrative role, he said it’s easier to see what needs to be done but also why things can’t be done as quickly as some would like.
“The college supports the spirit of the arts but there are a multitude of institutional priorities and all are very important to the lives of our students,” he said. “Oftentimes, what needs to be done is just to stay in the game, to keep active and keep the performing groups out in the community, waiting for the next opportunity.”
Future plans for MSJC’s Menifee Valley campus include construction of a performing arts center.
“I see the venue revolutionizing the arts at the college and in the Menifee community, in general,” Brown said. “The music folks are also making real strides to grow the program and to bring more students through. Those students lend their talents and impact the program’s growth and change in unique and often subtle ways.”
When Brown stepped into his current role as dean, music instructor Eric Rea became music department chair at the Menifee Valley campus. Passing the baton was not difficult for Brown.
“I trust Eric’s vision for the department and his talent for vocal and choral direction. His students are doing great things already,” Brown said.
Rea is currently teaching five classes and said taking over classes with music majors that had been taught by Brown has not been a problem because of the love of music and learning that were instilled in the students.
“Jeremy’s experience as a music department chair has been helpful to me during my transition into the role,” Rea said. “But he makes a great dean because he understands the idiosyncrasies of how music classes work and how they can be different than other classes. But outside of that, he’s just a great guy to work for; he leads without driving, he has high expectations without being demanding, and he serves his people, which is the heart of true leadership. He has a heart to serve students by serving the faculty, and it shows.”
For upcoming arts events at MSJC, please visit www.msjc.edu/performingarts and for more about Dr. Jeremy Brown, www.MyBrownMusic.com.