School of Music

Dr. Philip Alejo has been appointed the associate director of equity and inclusion for the University of Arizona Fred Fox School of Music.

Alejo is an associate professor of music, double bass. He is a 2023 National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures (NALAC) Advocacy Leadership Institute Fellow. This month, he will travel to Washington D.C. to meet with national arts leaders, as well as federal government officials. Alejo also serves as a University of Arizona’s 2022-23 HSI Fellow.

Philip Alejo
Dr. Philip Alejo

“We couldn’t be more pleased that Philip has accepted this new role at the Fred Fox School of Music,” said Director Lori J. Wiest. “He provides a thoughtful approach and leadership in the continuing development of initiatives, recruitment, retention, and outreach. Philip brings a passion for creating and expanding opportunities for students and faculty. Philip’s significant experience working with NALAC and serving as a HSI Fellow will offer a unique perspective as we advance our equity and inclusion efforts in our coursework, programming, and events.”

The Associate Director of Equity and Inclusion will execute a vision for the Fred Fox School of Music in the advancement of equity, inclusion and belonging in the school by implementing best practices to provide broader access to and completion of music degrees. This position will also work towards ensuring the University’s mandate and promise as a federally designated Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) and increase access and opportunities to the Hispanic community and students.

“Much work is already underway in the division of Arizona Arts,” says Amy Kraehe, associate vice president for equity in the arts. “Having served on our Diversity and Inclusion Committee in 2022-23, Philip has helped shape strategic initiatives that reflect our commitment to recruiting a diverse student body, offering inclusive arts curricula, and fostering a welcoming arts community. His new role will enhance Arizona Arts’ overall EDI program.”

Alejo appointed music’s associate director of equity and inclusion
Alejo received a 2021 Project Creosote Grant from the Arts Foundation for Tucson and Southern Arizona with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, City of Tucson, and Pima County to commission a new piece for baritone, double bass, and electronics from FFSoM colleague Kay He. The result, Rain Song, which paints a portrait the Sonoran Desert using two poems by Regents Professor Ofelia Zepeda. Zepeda is a member of the Tohono O’odham Nation, and her poetry embraces O’odham traditions, the natural world, and stories of contemporary O’odham life. Alejo premiered Rain Song on May 1, 2022, at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. 

“I am grateful for the opportunity to serve the Fred Fox School of Music as the Associate Director of Equity and Inclusion,” said Alejo. “I admire the work of so many of my colleagues in this area, and I look forward to collaborating with them on new and existing student-centered equity efforts. While we already have much to celebrate, I also recognize that confronting our challenges with self-study, conversation, and action will lead us to a stronger place as a school.

“I feel strongly that we all become better students, teachers, musicians, and humans when we strive to lift one another up,” he added. “Equity work involves understanding what barriers might be in the way of someone’s success, and then removing those barriers, whether through policy change, new curricular development, or connection with necessary resources. I am eager to work with members of the FFSoM Committee and colleagues in the building to increase our ability to retain and graduate students. 

“My goal will be that our students feel supported and encouraged throughout their journey to degree.”

National Association of Latino Arts and Culture

Alejo was recently awarded a 2023 National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures (NALAC) Advocacy Leadership Institute Fellowship, which will include a trip to Washington D.C. this April to meet with national arts leaders and government officials. This major program is supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Ford Foundation, Southwest Airlines, Surdna Foundation, and Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

Alejo was one of 21 NALAC Advocacy Leadership Institute Fellows in 2021 as well. The Fellows participated in a series of preparatory webinars laying the groundwork for a virtual advocacy intensive where Fellows met with congressional leaders and staff from federal agencies working in cultural policy.

University of Arizona HSI Fellows

Alejo is part of the University’s 2022-23 cohort of HSI FellowsThe program, sponsored by the Office of the Provost and participating colleges and departments, is a key component of the University’s designation as a Hispanic-Serving Institution. Alejo’s interest in creating pathways for Hispanic students to pursue arts education is among the goals for the cohort. 

Alejo says the outreach work he does by performing and discussing orchestral music in schools throughout Tucson and Phoenix is part of what led him to apply for the fellowship.

“I wanted to find ways to reach those students on a much more personal level,” he said.

He hopes to use his fellowship to develop a recruiting initiative to diversify the population of music teachers in Arizona. In a state with a significant population of Hispanic K-12 students, Alejo said, it’s an urgent need.

“We have a teaching workforce that does not represent these students, and for me, it raises a lot of red flags about the longevity of orchestral programs in this state,” Alejo said.

At the end of the 2023 spring semester, the groups will present their projects as part of an open forum.

Philip Alejo Bio

Alejo is an associate professor of music (double bass) at the Fred Fox School of Music and artist faculty at the Bay View Music Festival. He has also taught at the Arizona ASTA Bass Jams and the Richard Davis Bass Conference at the University of Wisconsin. He was recently named guest professor at the Wuhan Conservatory of Music and MusAid Teaching Artist at El Sistema, El Salvador.  Alejo holds degrees from Oberlin College (BA/BM), Yale University (MM), and University of Michigan (DMA).

A former member of the Chicago Civic Orchestra, Alejo has performed with the Tucson Symphony, Arizona Opera, Ensemble Dal Niente, Flint Symphony, and Ann Arbor Symphony. As a chamber musician, Alejo collaborates regularly with harpist Claire Happel in River Town Duo, which released a recording of new commissions in January 2021, sponsored by the Arizona Commission on the Arts.