As seen in the Winter 2017 edition of the Chronicle.
OTTAWA, KS – As a seven-year-old growing up in Northeast Ohio, Michael Pagán was blessed with musical parents who appreciated the vinyl virtuosos of American jazz. Awestruck, he listened to the genius of Bill Evans, Art Tatum, Oscar Peterson and Miles Davis – each imprinting a distinctive identity he would pastiche through nearly 40 years as a prolific composer, arranger and performer.
A student of music education and composition at Kent State University, he earned his doctorate in composition from Northwestern University. Performing throughout the United States and Europe with a long list of luminaries, he has compiled an impressive catalog of more than 150 original works.
Transforming his gifts from the stage to the classroom, Dr. Pagán serves as Music Department Chair at Ottawa University, one of the newest All-Steinway schools in Kansas. “This designation demonstrates the ongoing commitment of absolute excellence in music we have at Ottawa University,” he said. “It is a momentous, historic occasion, and truly a time to celebrate, as well as to give sincere thanks to all who have supported this dream into reality.”
Old pianos in the practice rooms and studios needed replacement. Enter Tom Wennblom, regional manager of Schmitt Music in Kansas City who conducted a comprehensive review of inventory. Working with former music chair Roger Kugler and faculty member Steven McDonald, he arranged a lease-purchase program for 10 new Steinway and Steinway-designed pianos. Dr. Pagàn said there’s been a new vibe on campus ever since: “The response has been overwhelmingly positive – students and faculty are genuinely impressed and grateful to have such fine instruments at their disposal on a daily basis. It has immeasurably boosted school spirit and pride in our music program.”
Brad Smoot, a pianist and recent Ottawa University graduate in jazz studies, said “one of the main reasons I chose to attend Ottawa University, besides the amazing music faculty, was that it was an All-Steinway School. The Steinway pianos are able to speak and respond so well that playing them makes practice and performance seem virtually effortless.”
The DeFries Society for the Performing Arts and Office of University Advancement were largely responsible for funding the All-Steinway campaign. “This distinction to the college music program is a testament to the tremendous financial support we receive from our alumni and friends,” said Paul Bean, vice president for University Advancement.
Founded in 1865 and building on its foundation as a Christ-inspired community of grace and open inquiry, Ottawa University prepares professional and liberal arts graduates for lifetimes of personal significance, vocational fulfillment, and service to God and humanity