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SoPA Building

Founded in 2002, the Shelby and Ferne Collinsworth School of Music at California Baptist University began with a small number of dedicated faculty, staff, and students. The School of Performing Arts flourished under the direction of its first dean, Dr. Gary Bonner, who established what remains one of the hallmarks of the CBU music culture: its eight major performance ensembles that consist of over 500 participants. These ensembles enjoy a rigorous concert schedule, touring nationally each year. In 2005, through the leadership of Dr. Bonner, a state-of-the-art, 33,000 square-foot music building was constructed, complete with numerous large rehearsal spaces, classrooms, practice rooms, and a full professional recording studio.

Upon Dr. Gary Bonner’s retirement in 2012, his son, Dr. Judd Bonner, assumed the position of Dean of the school. Under Dr. Judd Bonner’s leadership, the CBU Symphony Orchestra was born, a new Master of Music in Composition was launched, and state approval for the Single Subject Matter Competency in music was completed.

In 2016 the Collinsworth School of Music moved into another era of expanding its impact in the world. Under the direction of Dr. Joseph Bolin, the School of Music continued to build on the legacy of the past with a renewed focus on training consummate musicians for success in the classroom, the studio, the performance, and the 21st-century church.

In recent years, the School of Music partnered with some of the foremost worship leaders and experts in the commercial music industry in launching new undergraduate and graduate degrees in Worship Arts and new undergraduate degrees in Commercial Music. These industry professionals serve not only on our Steering Boards but also actively teach in the School of Performing Arts, preparing students for success in the church and in the commercial music industry.

The latest phase of the school's history began in July 2022 as the School of Music and the Theatre Department combined to form the new Collinsworth School of Performing Arts. Currently, students pursue academic degrees and performance opportunities in four distinct divisions: Music Education and Performance, Worship Arts, Commercial Music, and Theatre. The four divisions explore unique aspects of the performing arts while maintaining a central core of artistic and professional preparation.

The Collinsworth School of Performing Arts has a strong legacy of crafting artistic excellence and investing in the lives of young people. We remain dedicated to providing the highest quality musical and theatre arts education for undergraduate and graduate students alike, challenging them to live out their purpose by developing their God-given talents to their full potential. At CBU, we believe in inspiring students to Live out Their Purpose. Eph. 2:10 tells us that “We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works that He has prepared for us…” This means that God has designed each one of us with a specific set of strengths and abilities to facilitate the realization of His plan for our lives.