James Bailey, who transformed the Dairy Arts Center’s musical program, steps aside
By Peter Alexander
James Bailey, the music curator who has transformed the musical offerings at Boulder’s Dairy Arts Center, has stepped down from his position, effective May 1.
He will be replaced in the position by Sharon Park, a violinist and music administrator who has worked for and played in several of Boulder’s classical music organizations, including the Colorado Music Festival, the Boulder Bach Festival, the Boulder Philharmonic and the Boulder Chamber Orchestra. Park is a graduate of the New England Conservatory, the Juilliard School and the University of Colorado, Boulder.
After about two and a half years in the position, Bailey said he made the decision to step down just this year. “Over a period of weeks I got the feeling, ‘maybe it’s time for me to retire from this’, and open myself up to whatever happens next,” he says. “When I started looking at what’s involved with music at the Dairy, I realized that now is the time to do it, and to walk away and let that happen as it may.”
He has no specific career plans after leaving the Dairy. “It’s business as usual for me into June,” he says. “I’ve got a couple of trips I’m taking. I probably won’t settle into ‘What am I going to do next?’ until mid-August.”
Speaking of his successor, Bailey says “I have complete confidence in Sharon. I know her as a musician and as an administrator, so I knew that she would be perfect for the job. I’m very glad she was available.”
“Its a huge honor to follow in Jim’s footsteps and carry on the platform he’s already created,” Park says. “Jim has been integral not only to music at the Dairy but in general in our community. I’m excited to carry on that platform that Jim has so wonderfully created for the past couple of years.
“One of the special things about the Dairy is that it really does break down the barriers of the traditional concert hall.”
In his time as music curator, Bailey took the Dairy from having almost no serious musical program to one of the most interesting and creative venues in Boulder, in part by focusing on things off the beaten path that no one else was doing. These have included world music, work by local composers, the combination of music and film, live music with dance, and jazz performed in a pure listening environment.
“I was very fortunate to meet Bill Obermeier (executive director of the Dairy Center) when I did,” he says. “We hit it off, we had the same vision, and we created it. We’ve gone from nothing to where we produce about 22 concerts a year.”
That same period has seen the renovation of the Diary, which now has a well designed entrance that provides about the best lobby space of any performance venue in Boulder.
Both Bailey and Park said that the current series at the Dairy—Soundscape, One Night Only, and Jazz at the Dairy—will continue for at least the coming year. But there are also some new developments planned as well.
“We’re starting a brand new series, which will be very exciting, called CU at the Dairy,” Bailey says. “This will involve faculty and graduate students from the University of Colorado.
“We have a new grand piano [a recent gift to the Dairy from the Louis and Elizabeth Tenenbaum Memorial Fund], and we have new sound equipment. And what won’t be noticed by the audiences is starting in late December we’re going to completely renovate the backstage area. The performers will be very happy about that!”
Park hints that there may be still more innovations to come. “Stay tuned!” she says. “There’s a lot of exciting things in the pipeline.”