Baylor's Bradley Bolen Returns to Iraq for "Yes" Academy

Aug. 7, 2012
Bolen in IraqBradley Bolen in Iraq (Courtesy photo)

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WACO, Texas (Aug. 7, 2012) -- Dr. Bradley Bolen, senior lecturer in piano in Baylor's School of Music, recently took part in The Youth Excellence on Stage (YES) Academy's annual performing arts program in the Kurdistan region of Iraq.

Hosted by the nonprofit American Voices, the YES Academy ran its sixth year of workshops and concerts.

With a strong emphasis on teacher training, youth leadership, and curriculum development, the YES program offered aspiring Iraqi musicians, dancers, and actors the opportunity for intensive study in jazz, piano, rock, western classical music, theater, hip hop, and break dance.

This summer's YES Academy took place in Duhok, in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, from July 1 to 12, 2012, and included more than 300 participants from across the nation.

The summer performing arts program included a piano program taught by Professor Bradley Bolen of Baylor University. He taught his class of 13 Iraqi piano students everything from beginning repertoire to Chopin's Mazurkas to the 20th-century American music of Nathaniel Dett.

Bolen also conducted the piano program for a mini-YES Academy in Kirkuk, which taught piano fundamentals to seven Iraqi piano students at the Kurdistan Save the Children's Fund hall.

The YES Iraq program is made possible with the support of the Embassy of the United States in Baghdad, University of Duhok, The Governorate of Duhok, The Institute of Fine Arts of Duhok, and the Kurdistan Regional Government.

Since 1993, American Voices has been at the forefront of cross-cultural engagement around the globe. Founded with a focus on the recently independent nations of central and eastern Europe, American Voices has expanded its mission towards supporting youth in nations emerging from conflict or isolation. American Voices has presented concerts, workshops and summer youth performing arts academies in 110 countries worldwide. American Voices has taken its unique brand of cultural engagement programs--including Jazz Bridges, Youth Excellence on Stage (YES) Academy, and Hiplomacy to nations such as Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.

American Voices programming provides much needed expertise and support to aspiring young musicians, dancers and actors, as well as enhancing cultural understanding and communication among peoples and nations. In recognition of its work, U.S. Center for Citizen Diplomacy (USCCD) selected American Voices as a "Best Practice Organization" in 2010.


Baylor University is a private Christian university and a nationally ranked research institution, characterized as having "high research activity" by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The university provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 15,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating university in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 11 nationally recognized academic divisions. Baylor sponsors 19 varsity athletic teams and is a founding member of the Big 12 Conference.

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