University of Mobile Creates the Alabama School of the Arts and Renames Center for Performing Arts

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University of Mobile created the Alabama School of the Arts as the academic entity for the departments of music, worship leadership, theatre and visual arts. These academic departments previously resided in the Center for Performing Arts or College of Arts and Sciences. 

In addition, the Christian university in south Alabama also announced the renaming of its Center for Performing Arts as the Roger Breland Center for Performing Arts.  The Roger Breland Center for Performing Arts serves as the professional entity of the Alabama School of the Arts in providing venues for students to engage in productions for the community.

University president Dr. Timothy L. Smith made the announcements during the institution’s 14th annual Christmas Spectacular, a four-night musical extravaganza held Nov. 17-20. About 10,000 people attended Christmas Spectacular, which featured more than 300 students, faculty, staff and alumni in 20 ensembles, including a 200-member University Singers choir. It was the largest audience ever to attend the production, which moved to a new location this year at Cottage Hill Baptist Church in order to accommodate overflow crowds.

Daystar Television Network will air Christmas Spectacular internationally throughout the holiday season. Locally, WALA Fox10TV will air portions of the production on Christmas morning, Dec. 25, from 6-7 a.m. For more information on Christmas Spectacular or to order DVDs, go to umobile.edu/Christmas.

Smith said the changes better reflect the university program’s statewide, regional and international impact, and provide the organizational structure to expand academic programming and production opportunities in the future.

“University of Mobile is committed to being a premier Christ-centered academic community providing comprehensive liberal arts and professional programs to distinctively transform the world,” Smith said.

He said the Alabama School of the Arts and the Roger Breland Center for Performing Arts are “innovative educational opportunities focused on excellence, delivering the highest level of academic programs that prepare graduates to fulfill their professional calling.”

Smith became president of the Baptist-affiliated university in April 2016 following a nationwide search. In the short time since his appointment, the university has rebranded, achieved the “All-Steinway School” recognition, and broken ground on the Great Commission Globe fountain and landscaping project that will be a focal point on the 880-acre campus.

The Alabama School of the Arts is led by Dr. Al Miller, dean and professor of music. It includes a new professional recording studio and record label, the Fisher-Brewer Recording Studio and 8Eighty Records.  The university was recently named an “All-Steinway School,” a prestigious recognition held by only 185 music schools worldwide. The visual arts program includes the Marilyn Foley Art Gallery with instruction in graphic design, painting, drawing and dimensional design.

The Roger Breland Center for Performing Arts will serve as the professional entity for ensembles and productions such as Christmas Spectacular and the annual Performing Arts Series. With more than 20 performing ensembles, UM students have extensive opportunities to gain experience performing for the local community, throughout the state and region, and internationally to countries such as China, Russia, Israel, the Philippines, Cuba and more.

Dr. Roger Breland will serve as executive director of the center named in his honor. An early leader in contemporary Christian music and a member of the Gospel Music Hall of Fame, Breland had a 31-year career as founder and director of TRUTH, one of the first internationally successful contemporary Christian recording and performing groups.

Breland was instrumental in launching the careers of Christian musicians and former members of TRUTH such as Steve Green, Alicia, 4Him, Avalon and Russ Lee. Most recently, he is credited with launching the music careers of Veritas, a male vocal group that started as the University of Mobile ensemble Shofar. The UM graduates recently completed a national tour with five-time Grammy Award winner Sandi Patty.

For more information, contact University of Mobile at 251.442.2222 or visit umobile.edu.

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