Faculty Information


Laurence (Larry) Kaptain

  • Music and Entertainment Studies (CAM)
  • Provost's Office

Email Address:laurence.kaptain@ucdenver.edu

Mailing Address:
  • CU Denver

Arts Building

1150 10th Street

Denver, CO 80204

Laurence (Larry) Kaptain is Special Assistant to the Provost and former Dean of the College of Arts & Media. Prior to coming to CU Denver in 2014, he was Dean of Music and Dramatic Arts at Louisiana State University from 2009-13, Dean of Shenandoah Conservatory, Director of the heralded Schwob School of Music, and Assoc. Provost at UMKC.

Kaptain had a career as a performer heard with the New York Philharmonic, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the San Francisco Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony, and has recorded with the Chicago Symphony, St. Louis Symphony, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, and the Czech National Symphony.The recording of Stravinsky works with New York's famed Orpheus ensemble won the 2001 Grammy Award for Small Classical Ensemble. 

He has also appeared, collaborated, or recorded with artists such as Elvis Costello, Yo-Yo Ma, Stockhausen, Altman, Nureyev, Farrell, Stern, Boulez, Solti, Wolff, Reynolds, Rachleff, Schleicher, Shaham, Dutilleux, Masur, Mancini, and others. He received his first doctorate in percussion instruments at the Univ. of Michigan ('87), where he was a Fulbright Scholar to Mexico ('85-'86) and received the prestigious Rackham Graduate School Pre-Doctoral Fellowship (’86). His experience as a Fulbright Scholar to Mexico informed and advanced his leadership of international research, creative work, and cultural exchanges in Singapore, Malaysia, China, Nepal, South Korea, Uganda, India, Qatar, France, Italy, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Denmark, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Ecuador, Panama, Nicaragua, and Guatemala.

Areas of Expertise

Creative industries and musics of Mexico

Education, Licensure & Certifications

Percussion Performance
University of Michigan

Percussion Performance
University of Miami

Performance and Music Education
Ball State University



• External Support from Spencer Foundation: Special Grant 10025238 - Laurence Kaptain (PI), University of Colorado Denver ARTS in US Pandemic Pedagogies: Identifying Teacher Practices and Emerging Barriers and Discrepancies in Arts Education, $50,000. Submitted June 4, 2020. Declined.

• Travel Grant. “Marimba Yajalón at International Festival of the Marimba: The Marimba Approaching the New Millennium.” CONACULTA (State Arts Agency of Chiapas, Mexico). $8,000. December 1999.

• Consortium Funding for 1999 project. “Música Mexicana: On both sides of the border.” California State University-Northridge, ($30,000) and La Escuela de la Música Mexicana, ($15,000). $45,000. Summer, 1999.

• Institutional Grant. “The Marimba in Chiapas, Mexico: Five Interrelated Research Projects.” Fund for Culture of the U.S.-Mexico Commission for Educational and Cultural Exchange (Mexico City--funded by the Rockefeller, Bancomer, and Mexican Fine Arts Foundations. August 1996. $20,000.00.

• Travel Grant. "First University Percussion Festival of Mexico City." UNAM (national Autonomous University of Mexico). January 1996. $1,500.00

• Travel Grant. "Marimba Yajalón Appearance at Fourth International Festival of the Marimba." Institute of Chiapan Culture, Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Chiapas, Mexico. December 1995. $3,000.00.

• Corporate Funding. Zildjian Percussion Showcase at UMKC Conservatory Avedis Zildjian Co. $10,000 (In-kind artist fees, travel, and hospitality). September 1995.

• Travel Grant. "Marimba Yajalón Appearance at Third International Festival of the Marimba." Institute of Chiapan Culture, Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Chiapas, Mexico. September 1994. $3,500.00.

• Translation Grant. "An English Language Translation of Arturo Chamorro's Los instrumentos de percusión en México. Fund for Culture of the U.S.-Mexico Commission for Educational and Cultural Exchange (Mexico City--funded by the Rockefeller, Bancomer, and Mexican Fine Arts Foundations), August,1993. $8,061.00.

• Travel Grant. "Marimba Yajalón Appearance at Second International Festival of the Marimba and Tour of Chiapas, Mexico." Institute of Chiapan Culture and Chiapan State School of Music of the Chiapan Institute of Arts and Sciences. July 1993. $5,000.00.

• Equipment Grant. "Five-Octave Concert Marimba." The Helen S. Boylan Charitable Foundation of Carthage, Missouri, April 1993. $7,500.00.

• Travel Grant. "Marimba Yajalón Tour of Chiapas, Mexico." Institute for Chiapan Culture (Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Chiapas). July 1992. $6,200.00.

• Cultural Enrichment Grant. "Marimba Nandayapa Kansas City Community Residency." Mid America Arts Alliance and Greater Kansas City National Hispanic Heritage Committee, 1992 (grant written by L. Kaptain, on behalf of the Greater KC Hispanic Heritage Committee, and funds were awarded to Conservatory Continuing Education to sponsor the Marimba Nandayapa Residency). $8,000.00.

• Travel Grant. "Marimba Yajalón Residency in Mexico City at First International Festival of the Marimba." Socicultur (Mexico City Civic government cultural arts program). June 1991. $5,000.00. Internal Support:

• Matching funding for Endowed Professorship in Choral Studies, The Regents of Louisiana State University, $829,000. April 2013.

• Diversity Grant. For the development of a new elective course: CON 497 Música Mexicana: On both sides of the border. UMKC Office of Student Life. $2,957.00. September 1999.

• Supplemental Funding. Música Mexicana: On both sides of the border. Office of the Vice-Provost for Research, April 1999. $7,891.00.

• Special Projects Grant. Música Mexicana: On both sides of the border. University of Missouri Research Board, April 1999. $45,000.00.

• UMKC Faculty Research Grant," African Antecedents of the Extant Diatonic Marimba Traditions of Southern Chiapas and Coastal Ecuador and Colombia." UMKC Research Council, 1997. $5,000.00.

• Research Grant. Three Research Projects. University of Missouri Research Board, December 1995. $22,000.00.

• Faculty Research Grant. "Preliminary Research for the Second Edition of Maderas que cantan. UMKC Faculty Research Council. April 1995. $4,996.00.

• UMKC Faculty Research Grant. "A Recording of Mesoamerican Marimba Music in the Tradition of marimba pura." Awarded April 1994. $3,118.00.

• UMKC Faculty Research Grant, "A Stylistic and Notational Transcription of Traditional Performance Practice of Marimba Music from Chiapas, Mexico Through Computer Assisted MIDI Technology." UMKC Research Council, 1992. $3,998.00.


Elected “Fellow” into the RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, (2014)
Key to the City of Columbus, Georgia (2004)
Society for Values in Higher Education, Fellow (2003)
Fulbright Hays Seminars Abroad, Brazil (2000)
Thomas Barr Fellowship to attend Salzburg Seminar, “Youth and Civic Participation: Models of Engagement” (2000)
Greater Kansas City Hispanic Heritage Committee, Special Recognition Award (2000)
State Culture and Arts Council of Chiapas, Mexico, Certificate of Recognition (1999)
University of Kansas City Trustees Faculty Fellow (1996-1997)
House of Folkloric Mexican Music/School of Mexican Music, Mexico City, Special Certificate of Recognition (1995)
UMKC Conservatory of Music, Muriel Kauffman Excellence in Teaching Award (1994)
United States Information Service, U.S. Embassy, Mexico City, Academic Specialist Award (1991)
Rackham School Graduate Fellowship, University of Michigan (1986-87)
Fulbright Pre-Doctoral Research Award (Mexico) (1985-86)


Colorado Business Committee for the Arts (CBCA), (2016-present, Executive Committee, 2018-present)
Denver School of the Arts, Foundation Board of Directors, (2015-present)
Opera! Colorado, Board of Directors (2017-present)
WRKF (NPR) Community Advisory Board, (2013-2014)
Dialogue on Race (Baton Rouge), 2013 Creative Louisiana!, Board of Directors (2012-2016)
Baton Rouge Area Chamber Canvas to Louisville (2012)
Baton Rouge Rotary (2009-2014)
Baton Rouge Symphony, Board of Directors (2009-2014)
Winchester, Virginia Rotary (2006-2009)
Columbus, Georgia Downtown Rotary (2004-2006)
Compassion Foundation (Kansas City / Juarez, Mexico), Board of Directors (2000-2004)
Kansas City Symphony, Music Director/Search Committee (2002-2004)
Grupo Atotonilco (Kansas City-based Mexican folkloric dance ensemble), Board of Directors (2000-2004)
Sociedad Hidalgo, Board of Directors (2000-2004)
Kansas City Professional Development Council, Board of Directors (2001-2003)
East Jackson County Economic Development Commission (2001-2002)
Producer of Mexican music concert to honor community arts activist José González (2000)
Producer of workshop and performance by Ballet Folklorico Guadalajara at the University of Missouri-Kansas City (2000)
Hispanic Scholarship Benefit Multicultural Presentation, Performing Artist (1999)
Guadalupe Center Blanco y Negro Fundraising Benefit, Performing Artist (1999)
Grupo Atotonilco Fundraising Benefit Performance at the Folly Theater, Performing Artist (1999)
Greater Kansas City Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (1994-1995)
Spanish language translator for Mid-American Arts Alliance (1992)
Marimba Nandayapa, Mexico City / Shawnee Mission Schools Residency, Coordinator (1992)

American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U)
American Conference of Academic Deans (ACAD)
American Council on Higher Education (ACHE)
Alliance for the Arts at Research Universities (a2ru--based at University of Michigan), Host for 2016 National Conference, member of Strategic Planning Committee.
Arts School Network, member of Executive Council, 2016-2019.
Association for General and Liberal Studies (AGLS), Executive Board, 2006-2015, President 2010-2012
Association of Deans and Directors of University Colleges and Undergraduate Studies
Association of Integrative Studies (AIS)
College Music Society (CMS), Founding Chair, Music in Higher Education Committee, 2005-2012, Treasurer and member of Executive Council 2013-16.
Creative Louisiana, Board of Directors, 2012-2014
Hispanic Caucus—American Association of Higher Education International Conference of Fine Arts Deans (ICFAD)
International Society for Music Education (ISME)
International Society of Teaching and Education (ISTE)
Journal of Performing Arts Leadership in Higher Education (Founding Co-Editor)
National Association of Schools of Music (NASM)
Professional and Organizational Development Network in Higher Education (POD)
Project Kaleidoscope
The Recording Academy (The National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences--voting membership for annual GRAMMY Awards)
Society for Ethnomusicology
Society for Values in Higher Education
Indiana University Center for Post-Secondary Higher Education, Strategic National Arts Alumni Project (SNAAP), National Advisory Board, 2015-present

College of Arts & Media

CU Denver

Arts Building

1150 10th Street

Suite 177

Denver, CO 80204


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