Moravian College Music Institute

By Christine A. Krahling

This month, I talked with Blair Flintom, facilities manager for The Moravian College Music Institute about his role there, his goal for the Institute, as well as what the Institute offers those in the community who might be interested in pursuing music lessons.

The Moravian College Music Institute (MCMI) was created over 25 years ago to provide community students with an opportunity to study with highly qualified professional musicians. What led to this decision?

Moravian’s Department of Music had provided community lesson opportunities for years. Yet, the semester-based lesson needs of college students were slightly different from a community student’s needs in terms of lesson numbers and length. The Music Institute was charged with creating a separate structure to accommodate a variety of lesson offerings based on community preference.

There was also a concurrent change in how performances were presented by the Department of Music. Instead of offering a series of faculty recitals for which the faculty were not compensated, the Institute was charged with creating a niche concert series of compensated college and non-college performers who complemented the college’s educational offerings.

Tell us about MCMI’s Artist-Lecturer faculty in terms of their teaching expertise and performing experiences.

Our faculty varies from well-seasoned alum to veterans of the music world who have more than 30 years’ experience. All of our faculty are qualified professionals playing with such musical ensembles as The Philadelphia Orchestra, Montreal Symphony, New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, and our home symphonies, including the Allentown and Reading Symphony Orchestras. We’ve had faculty play Broadway shows in New York and the Philadelphia area. Many have toured in Europe. Our jazz faculty just returned from the Czech Republic after a three-week tour.

How did you become involved with MCMI?

The Moravian College Music Institute is run by Moravian College through the Department of Music. I work for both the College and the Institute. My duties with the institute consist of publicity, room scheduling, and concert coordination for the Priscilla Payne Hurd Campus, including all guest artists we may bring in.

What do you enjoy most about being facilities manager of MCMI?

Not only do I facilitate MCMI, my responsibilities also include college and guest events.

What I enjoy the most about my job is the interactions with the students–I call them “The Kids”—and my work mostly involves the college students. They keep me in touch with the times and keep my gadget skills up-to-date. Over my years at Moravian, I have developed lasting relationships with many of the kids and still communicate with them today. For me, that’s what brings me the most value from my job; that I was able to make a difference in their years here at Moravian. I take much pride in being part of an institution that is the sixth oldest in the country and has a foundation and heritage in music and education.

What is a typical day like for you?

Coffee with the third floor gang first thing in the morning; back and forth with emails; dealing with many of the building issues: rooms too hot, too cold, repairs. I supervise and schedule the Work Study students throughout the department. I contract any request for rentals on the Hurd Campus. If it’s a weekend with programming, I’m here to supervise and stage-manage the concert. If it’s a rental, I play the role of “site supervisor.”

What sets MCMI apart from other instructional music programs?

Institute lessons at Moravian are taught by professional college faculty who are constantly improving their teaching. Whether a community student is looking for Suzuki, classical, or jazz instruction, the teaching is rubric- and learner-based.

You’ve mentioned wanting MCMI to become an “All-Steinway Institution.” Tell us what that means and how you plan to achieve this goal.

Very simply put we want the best for our students, college and Institute. Steinways can be found in colleges and universities throughout the United States that offer music programs. Our Steinways start at about 7:00 am and can be in use until midnight. That basically is a day of college lessons, practice time, and Institute music lessons. We must have dependable instruments that can take this type of wear-and-tear on a daily basis. By becoming an All-Steinway Institution, the effort sets us apart as serious about music instruction. It is also a great marketing tool for college recruitment. We have been fundraising for almost 10 years and are about halfway to our goal. We have gotten this far with grants, donations, and fundraising by The Moravian College Music Alliance.

The Alliance will have its Sixth Annual At Home Steinway event on Halloween night at 5:00 pm. Titled, “Keys ‘N Tease,” this fundraising event is designed as a “traveling” fundraiser, traveling from different homes and having wonderful music played by students, alums, and guest performers.

This year the fundraiser is being hosted by the new TC Salon and Spa in Allentown. Jacobs Music Company (of Philadelphia and Whitehall) is our Steinway dealership and has continued to provide support for our cause. Rob-Win Press in Allentown has also been a corporate donor in our effort over the past six years. Some organizations have become All-Steinway as a result of one simple donation or corporate gift. A part of our Steinway initiative is to also fund an endowment for maintenance and repair of the instruments.

Why is it important to study music and share it with others?

Simply put, music is an expression of life that cannot be duplicated by any other art form.

Tell us about MCMI’s Guitar Festival, Suzuki Workshops and Summer Youth Jazz Camps.

The Guitar Festival just celebrated its 10th year; the event falls on the first weekend of June. With special guests like Lawrence Juber, Thom Bresh, Duo Melis, and Jason Vieaux to name a few, it is a daylong event of wonderful guitar music, workshops, and lectures. John Arnold, Artist-Lecturer here at the college founded the event and has partnered with C.F. Martin in sponsorship. (For info visit:

The 2010 Lehigh Valley Suzuki String Workshop was founded three years ago by Artist-Lecturer Nancy Terlaak-Poot. It is a two-day event (Oct. 22-23) created to nurture the development of young string players. The two days consist of workshops, group lessons, fiddling classes, and beginning orchestra classes. The Music Institute also offers Suzuki piano and flute lessons. (For info visit:

The Summer Youth Jazz Camp is held the second or third week in July. It is under the director of Dr. Neil Wetzel and in its eighth year. The camp gives student in grades 8 through 12 the opportunity to participate in ensembles, jazz history recording sessions and jazz theory. (For info visit

Christine A. Krahling is the editor of Lehigh Valley Marketplace and the proud parent of a female drummer.

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