Endowed professor supports students’ passion for music and Italy

For Roberta Waldbaum, Italy means music, and music means Italy.

So it’s no surprise that the University of Denver assistant professor of Italian decided to meld her two passions — and connections with the University — with her recent gift to the Lamont School of Music, which establishes the Clara Rosen Music Award Endowed Fund.

“I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t surrounded by music — particularly Italian music — as I grew up in a musical family and began to study voice as a young woman,” she recalls.

Waldbaum’s mother, Clara Rosen, was a gifted opera singer who performed all over Denver in the 1930s-1950s — including performances for the Lamont Opera Club, run by the DU program’s namesake, Florence Lamont Hinman.

Waldbaum calls her mother’s participation in the Lamont School of Music in the 1930s “pivotal in her musical career and a catalyst for my future studies of Italian and my own career.”

Waldbaum’s gift to the school is her way of honoring the memory of her mother — who often performed under the stage name Kara Karlyle — and to enrich students’ lives through music and Italy. The funding must be used for study or performance in Italy, so Lamont undergraduate or graduate students can immerse themselves in the country’s musical offerings.

“It’s my hope that students will return to the University greatly enriched by their experiences in the country where opera was born and musical genius and innovation has thrived throughout the centuries,” Waldbaum says.

Waldbaum knows firsthand how a fund can benefit work — she holds the Anna Maglione-Sie Endowed Professorship in Italian Culture, made possible through the Anna and John J. Sie Foundation. That gift has helped fund her own research in Italian literature and cinema and international civic engagement, as well as conduct archival research in Italy, a place she calls her second home.

“I believe that we all have a responsibility to serve our communities — local, national and international — to the best of our abilities,” Waldbaum says.

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