Under Adam Bodony’s tenure as Assistant Professor and Director of Orchestras at Purdue University, the orchestra program has experienced remarkable growth. The number of students enrolled in orchestra has grown by more than a whopping 85% — from 150 during the 2015-2016 academic year to 280 in 2023-2024. The number of orchestras went from two when Bodony arrived at Purdue, to four — a first in the department’s 120-year history.
According to Bodony, enrollment grew for several reasons, including:
- Establishing a renewed sense of pride in being an orchestra member at Purdue, having a higher bar of artistic excellence, and creating a culture of support, understanding and kindness.
- Establishing a collaborative and supportive relationship with other areas in the department (such as marching band, concert band, jazz band, etc.) and with other colleges in the university (such as the College of Liberal Arts and its component areas related to music).
- Seeking out regional, national and international performance opportunities and competition participation to raise the awareness of Purdue’s program while simultaneously instilling a sense of pride in students in representing Purdue University outside of its campus borders.
- Reaching out to dozens of professional and collegiate guest artists, guest conductors and guest collaborators. “Our orchestra students have learned from some of the very best talent the United States has to offer,” Bodony says.
- Finally, Bodony believes the most important factor is that students “see in me and sense from me my pure love for music, even at a place like Purdue that is overwhelmingly STEM-centered,” he said.
Bodony is also the Artistic Director of the Indianapolis Youth Orchestra (IYO), which he wants to set up as a pre-college conservatory, offering instruction in topics like music theory, music history, conducting and chamber music. After finding out that IYO families were overwhelmingly interested in these pre-college modules, he identified partners to help. “For music theory and music history, we partnered with the Butler University Community Arts School and developed a curriculum together that their staff would then teach,” Bodony says.
For chamber music, IYO partnered with several local professional musicians from area universities as well as the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. Bodony developed the curriculum and taught the material for conducting, which culminated with students conducting the IYO Symphony Orchestra.
This pre-college system ran from 2015 to 2020, but everything came to a screeching halt during the pandemic. “This academic year (2023-2024), we restarted our music theory module. Conducting and music history will be next,” Bodony explains.
Having grown up in Indianapolis and now working with youth and college students in the city, creating and promoting local musical opportunities is important to Bodony. When he was young, he craved performance and concert opportunities and was generally supported and found what he was looking for. “It pains me to consider a young person somewhere out there in Indianapolis starving for more art, more music, more high-quality instruction, more depth, more knowledge, more everything, and not being fulfilled. That’s what drives me,” he says.