Check out the recent activities and accomplishments of former classmates.
David Bourns (MM ’67) has retired after playing Principal Oboe in the Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra for 38 years. He recently published a book of poetry, his Collected Poems, which is available from Amazon, B & N, and the publisher BookLocker in softcover or Kindle download.
Francis Brancaleone (MM ’60) has had his fifth article appear in Sacred Music, “The Golden Years of an American Catholic Institution: An Annotated Chronicle of the Pius X School of Liturgical Music from 1946 to Its Transformation as the Music Department of Manhattanville College, 1969–1970,” in the Spring 2019 issue. His series of journal articles, posted online at the Church Music Association of America (Musica Sacra) site, form a comprehensive history of that institution’s most important influence on 20th-century Catholic liturgical music.
Anton Coppola’s (BM ’64, MM ’65) latest opera, Lady Swanwhite, premiered at Opera Tampa on February 9, 2019. Anton was Artistic Director at Opera Tampa until his retirement at age 95 in 2012.
Allan Dean (BM ’59, MM ’60) recently retired from the Yale School of Music after 31 years. He will be editing his arrangements, hitting tennis balls, and traveling once again to Italy.
Steven Gadd (BM ’65) won a 2019 Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Instrumental Album.
Adolphus Hailstork (BM ’64, MM ’65, Hon. DMA ’19) was the recipient of an Honorary Doctorate from Manhattan School of Music at commencement on May 10, 2019.
Gary Hickling (MM ’66) has compiled Lotte Lehmann & Her Legacy, a free iBooks series including audios, videos, and photos (Volumes I and II) and presenting Lehmann’s master classes, mostly audio, in Lieder, mélodie, and art songs (Volume III), song cycles (Volume IV), and opera arias and scenes (Volume V).
Fredrick Kaufman (BM ’59, MM ’60) accepted an Endowed Composition Chair at Ithaca College School of Music for the 2019-20 school year. His chamber work The Essence of Fragrances Past & Present premiered in October and his Kaddish Cello Concerto will be performed in February at the School. Also in February, classical guitarist Mesut Ozgen will premiere his Guitar Concerto, commissioned to be performed at the 2020 International Guitar Conference in Miami.
Robert Manno (BM ’68) has been a member of the New York City Opera Chorus for 10 years and The Metropolitan Opera Chorus for 24 years. Robert began composing at MSM, began conducting in 1972 and continues to do both. He and his wife formed the Windham Chamber Music Festival in upstate New York in 1997. His full-length opera Do Not Go Gentle about Dylan Thomas received its workshop premiere at the Phoenicia Festival of the Voice in 2015. Live performances of works Robert conducted have been featured nationally on “Performance Today” since 2000.
Joseph Rescigno (MM ’69) celebrated his 35th anniversary with the Florentine Opera (Milwaukee, WI). He is now the longest-serving principal conductor of any opera company in the United States, with the retirement last year of James Levine from the Metropolitan Opera. A native of New York City, Rescigno was tapped to guest-conduct a production of La Gioconda with the Florentine, the nation’s sixth oldest opera company, in 1981. “When I first joined the company, and John Gage was the General Director, we did a lot of Italian and French operas, what you’d consider the traditional repertoire. With Dennis Hanthorn, we branched out into doing more Wagner and Strauss. And with the arrival of Bill Florescu, the emphasis has been on doing more contemporary works, in addition to other repertoire. I think that’s a healthy sign, that the company continues to evolve,” said Rescigno. Maestro Rescigno has also served as Music Director of La Musica Lirica, a summer program for singers in Northern Italy, since 2005. In addition, he is honored to continue mentoring young conductors in the Opera Residency Program of the Solti Foundation U.S. His book Conducting Opera: Where Theater Meets Music will be published by the University of North Texas Press in the spring of 2020.
Steven Richman (’69), Grammy Award-nominated conductor of Harmonie Ensemble/New York, has had his fourteenth CD, a Toscanini 150th Anniversary Tribute, released on the Bridge Records label.
Virginia Smedberg (BM ’68, MM ’70) celebrates over 25 years playing violin with Opera San Jose and West Bay Opera. This season she adds Island Opera. In October, Virginia went on a two-week tour as concertmaster of the orchestra with the chorus Viva La Musica to the Baltics, Helsinki, and St. Petersburg.
Carl Topilow (BM ’68, MM ’69) recently retired as conductor at the Cleveland Institute of Music after 37 years. He continues to serve as conductor of the Cleveland Pops Orchestra, the National Repertory Orchestra (for the summer festival in Breckenridge, Colorado), and the Firelands Symphony (based in Sandusky, Ohio). He has appeared as guest conductor with more than 120 orchestras in 37 states and 12 foreign countries.
Flavio Varani (BM ’68) recorded twice at the Glenn Gould Studios, CBS, in Toronto this year, the first session devoted to the works of Chopin, Cesar Franck, and Prokofieff, and the second to the major piano works of Paul Paray. Recently Flavio expanded his involvement with the visual arts and took courses in architecture, painting, and ceramics at SCAD in Savannah, Georgia. One of his oil paintings was shown at an exhibition at Greenville Center for Creative Arts in Greenville, South Carolina.
Dr. Elaine Bearer (BM ’70, Theory) was a recipient of Manhattan School of Music’s 2019 Distinguished Alumni award.
Judy Blazer (BM ’77) just finished a semester at University of California, Davis, as the Granada Artist. She taught a course called “Anatomy of a Roll in Musical Theatre” and co-directed Kander and Ebb’s Flora, the Red Menace with Broadway veteran and head of the theater department, Mindy Cooper.
Robert Bonfiglio (MM ’79) performed the Alexander Tcherepnin Harmonica Concerto in the world premiere of Max Petrov’s Concerto Armonico with Atlanta Ballet. The performance was conducted by alumna Tara Simoncic (PS ’01).
Rodney Morgan Brown (BM ’74) is working on the orchestration for his opera Hawthorne in Paradise and the final piano reduction for his concert piece on text of Tolstoy Romantic Youth Dreaming.
Marie Carbone (MM ’79) had a column entitled “Illuminations: Making Music for Good” published in the Spring 2019 issue of California Music Teacher, the publication of the California Music Teacher Association, as part of its “Illuminations” series.
Steve Cohen (BM ’76) was honored with the 2019 Hallel V’Zimrah Award, given by the Zamir Choral Foundation at the North American Jewish Choral Festival. A newly commissioned piece, Im Ein Ani Li, was premiered at the close of the festival and will be part of next season’s repertoire for Hazamir: The International Jewish Teen Choir.
Michael Davis (MM ’76) produced a documentary, Regina Resnik: New York Original, about the life and career of Regina Resnik (1922–2013), the New York-born international opera star, Tony-nominated Broadway actress, stage director, filmmaker, and Jewish cultural figure. The documentary has been nominated for a 2019 New York Emmy Award.
Cori Ellison (’79) was a recipient of Manhattan School of Music’s 2019 Distinguished Alumni award. She was also named Santa Fe Opera’s first full-time dramaturg in October 2018.
Joshua Greene (MM ’76) celebrated his 15th season as Assistant Conductor at the Metropolitan Opera in 2019 and prompted La fanciulla del West, Mefistofele, Adriana Lecouvreur, Aida, and La clemenza di Tito. He also completed his 11th year as a vocal coach of graduate students at Mannes College of Music.
Shirley Gruenhut (MM ’73) performed as solo pianist at Asheville Area Piano Forum’s spring benefit concert in April 2019, performed as a volunteer pianist at Lake Pointe Landing Senior Residence in Hendersonville, North Carolina, and starred in a benefit performance at Master Works Theatre for Hearts for the Arts.
Larry Hochman (BM ’75) was nominated for a 2019 Daytime Emmy Award in the category “Outstanding Original Song In A Children’s Or Animated Program” for PBS’s show Peg + Cat. Larry is also a 2019 Tony award nominee for Best Orchestrations for Broadway’s Kiss Me Kate.
Allan Kaplan (BM ’70, MM ’71) was invited to present a trombone master class at the Boston Conservatory at Berklee on March 14, 2019.
For the last fifteen years Brian Malone (BM ’75) volunteered for the Civil Air Patrol and accepted the Quality Cadet Unit Award for 2018-19. Brian shares, “I got my pilot’s license in 1999 and it seemed like a good way to serve the community. On 10/18/2019 after 3 1/2 years I turn over the job of Commander of the St. Joe Valley Cadet Squadron to the next person. It has been an honor to lead these young folks!”
Leslie Middlebrook (MM ’78) recently formed the opera group InCanto, which celebrated its sold out, debut concert, THE PRIMA DONNA TRIBUTE, at the Bernie Wohl Center in September 2019.
Kevin Moore (MM ’72), professor of music at Onondaga Community College in Syracuse, New York since 1975, played his 140th piano recital in April 2019. In addition to teaching, Kevin has been General Counsel for the College since 2012 and has had seven choral works performed in Syracuse.
Joseph Morrison (BM ’75, MM ’76) recorded his album Joe Morrison’s Pop Jazz Personnel.
David Owens’s (MM ’73) performed twice in spring 2019 in premières of two of his newest compositions: Soliloquy VIII for cor anglais and piano and Soliloquy VII for solo piano. These within a pair of recitals he played with oboist/english hornist Barbara Kipp, at Medford and Newton, Massachusetts.
On November 29, 2019 the chorus Carmina Gaudii presented a concert in Argentina of Dr. Thomas Parente’s (BM ’77) music titled “This Heavenly Night.” The program included six choral works and three of his art songs, performed by soprano Cecilia Leyes, a Parana Conservatory faculty member. Thomas is Associate Professor at Westminster Choir College and Rider University. Learn more about Thomas’s performance here.
Dr. Penny Prince’s (BM ’74, MM ’76) song, “Soleil Is Her Name,” was featured in the Ahrens/Flaherty Songwriting Workshop, this past summer at the Dramatists Guild Conference in New York City. Penny founded a Re-entry Committee at Lehman College to make the school a more informed and supportive place for formerly incarcerated people entering higher education.
Wendy Rosen (BM ’77) celebrates her 40th season with the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra.
David Searfoss (MM ’72) begins his 28th year as principal trumpet of the St. Matthew’s Chamber Orchestra (Pacific Palisades, CA) and his 37th year as associate principal trumpet of the Pasadena Symphony in 2019. David has recorded Handel’s Water Music and Prokofiev’s Classical Symphony with Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra under Gerard Schwartz. Los Angeles Philharmonic recordings include Janacek’s Sinfonietta, Respighi’s Feste Romane, and Andriesson’s Die Stadt. David has also done work for over 100 Motion Picture and TV soundtracks.
Walter Simmons (BM ’72, MM ’74) has devoted most of his career to promoting 20th-century American composers whose music is largely unknown, as a critic (Fanfare), author, and producer of recordings. He has produced premiere CD recordings of nearly 100 works, many of which had never been played before, and has won considerable praise from most reviewing media.
Randall Svane’s (BM ’77) newly commissioned work, Wer bin ich, premiered on August 3, 2019 at the Schwaebischer Kunstsommer in Irsee, Germany. The eleven minute a cappella work, with text by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, will be sung by the festival choir and directed by German conductor Philipp Amelung.
Sondra Tammam (BM ’73) was a guest professor at the International Piano Week of the Music Academy Cetinge University of Montenegro and presented a master class seminar at the Conservatorio di Milano, G. Verdi in November 2019.
Carol Wincenc (BM ’71) celebrates the 50th anniversary of her moving to New York City, commencing her studies at Manhattan School of Music and debut with the MSM Orchestra as Concerto Soloist. To commemorate her 50th anniversary, she will perform a series of recitals in the New York area. On November 12, 2019, the Morgan Library and Museum premieres excerpts of the Carol Wincenc film documentary: The Ruby Concerts by film maker Loenard Yakir. Wincenc will perform world premieres of works written for her by Jake Heggie and Piere Jalbert with guest artists The Escher String Quartet and pianist Jake Heggie. Carol’s 50th anniversary coincides with the 100th anniversary of the New York Flute Club. On November 17, she will premiere a new work for the occasion, written by Gabriela Lena Frank for flute and piano, at Merkin Concert Hall. On January 18, 2020, Wincenc will premiere a celebratory work at Stony Brook University Staller Center for the Arts. The piece was written by Valerie Coleman for the Flute New Music Consortium. On February 23, 2020 Carol will perform at Merkin Concert Hall on the acclaimed radio series, “Only in New York with Terrance McKnight,” featuring world premieres by Robert Sirota with her trio Les Amies and Sato Matsui’s new work for flute and piano with Metropolitan Opera pianist Bryan Wagorn. On April 16, Carol will perform a world premiere of a work by Larry Alan Smith at the Staller Center for the Arts at Stony Brook University. The concert’s grand finale is Andrew Thomas’s A Samba with 40 musicians on stage—30 of them flutists. Carol has built a renowned career as a world-class soloist and chamber music collaborator, has commissioned new compositions, and has performed around the world with major symphonies and at numerous series and festivals.
Fred Bronstein (MM ’82), pianist and dedicated music educator, was reappointed dean of the Peabody Conservatory for a second term.
Angela Brown (MM ’81) celebrates her 25th anniversary as the founder of Hill and Hollow Music, which present chamber music concerts and artist residencies in the rural setting of Saranac, NY. The 2019-2020 season features REBEL Baroque, Horszowski Trio, David Krakauer, Alon Goldstein, Ingrid Jensen, Christine Jensen, Tim Collins, Arturo Delmoni, Patricia McCarty, Julia Lichten, and David Geber.
Gregory Buchalter (’82) is currently in his 30th year as an Assistant Conductor and Maestro di Banda of the Metropolitan Opera. He also holds the position of Artistic Director of Opera Fairbanks and was just named principal conductor of Varna International in Bulgaria, where this summer he will conduct three operas, including the Bulgarian premiere of Bernstein’s Candide.
Shawn Buck (MM ’85) begins his 10th year as Principal Clarinet of the Apollo Orchestra in Washington, D.C.
John Carpenter (MM ’81) performed in the Award Concert of the BMTG intercontinental Piano Competition (First prize) at Carnegie Hall on December 8, 2018.
Brian Cassier (BM ’88) completed a season as music coordinator and orchestra contractor of the television series Perpetual Grace, LTD. In 2018, Brian was score music coordinator for season two of Amazon TV’s show Patriot. He recently worked on Between Two Ferns: The Movie.
Pianist Edward Cibener (MM ’85) performed with opera singer Laura Barragan in a recital of songs and arias by Bernstein, Ravel, Rodrigo, and Mozart in a Valentine’s Day concert at the Palo Alto Commons, a senior living facility for those who are physically unable to travel to hear live music.
Frank Daykin (BM ’83) gave an all-Fauré song master class at Manhattan School of Music on May 15, 2019 sponsored by the Art Song Preservation Society. He is currently in his 19th year as faculty coach at the Chamber Music Conference, which takes place at Bennington College.
Jeffrey Ellenberger (BM ’80) conducted the Bar Harbor Music Festival Orchestra in a performance of Louis Scarmolin’s Sinfonietta and was a soloist in J. S. Bach’s Concerto for Two Violins in summer 2019.
Karen Fuller (BM ’85, MM ’86) celebrates her 28th season as Co-founder and flutist of the Palm Beach Chamber Music Festival and 30th season as Principal Flutist of the Palm Beach Opera Orchestra.
Dr. Nicholas Goluses (BM ’81, MM ’82, DMA ’85) was a recipient of Manhattan School of Music’s 2019 Distinguished Alumni award.
Simon James (PD ’85) was appointed to San Francisco Conservatory of Music’s violin faculty in Fall 2019.
Tian Jiang (BM ’87) performs Beethoven’s Emperor piano concerto at Carnegie Hall on December 19, 2019 as part of “250 Years of Beethoven, Celebrated!”
Evan Kent’s (BM ’82) one man show, Shards: Putting the Pieces Together, will be touring the U.S. in February and May 2020. The production tells the story of Evan’s immigration to Israel interwoven with stories of his grandparents’ immigration to the U.S. at the beginning of the 20th century. evankent.com
Aaron Jay Kernis (BM ’81) won two 2019 Grammy Awards in the categories Best Contemporary Classical Composition and Best Classical Instrumental Solo.
Dr. Anthony Masiello (MM ’83) has performed as Second Clarinetist with the West Valley Symphony for over 20 years and with the MusicaNova Orchestra for 16 years. Anthony retired from public school music teaching; is owner of Music Masters Full Service Music Store in Scottsdale, AZ; and is an Associate Real Estate Broker and Property Manager with XCD Realty and Property Management.
Engagements for the 2018-19 season for Susan Merdinger (’88) included a performance of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with the Highland Park Strings and Robert Hasty conducting, and a performance of Brahms Piano Concerto No. 2 with the Northbrook Symphony Orchestra and Larry Rapchak conducting.
Aaron Minsky (BM ’80, MM ’81) is the recipient of a Who’s Who Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award.
John Musto (BM ’76, MM ’80) had his Sonata for Violoncello and Piano premiered by Alexis Gerlach and Michael Boriskin at the Copland House in May 2019. His opera Later the Same Evening was also performed in May, at San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and his opera Bastianello was performed in July 2019 at the Napa Valley Festival. John also received a 2019 American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in music.
Kai Pangune Kim (BM ’79, MM ’81) performed Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with the Garden State Symphony Orchestra on September 22, 2019 at the West Side Presbyterian Church in Ridgewood, New Jersey.
New York City Opera presented the world premiere of Ted Rosenthal’s (BM ’81, MM ’83) first opera Dear Erich. This jazz opera is based on his family’s story — letters written by Rosenthal’s grandmother in Nazi Germany to her son in Chicago, where he was studying, having left Germany only a few months before Kristallnacht.
Blake Rowe (BM ’82) created a weekly podcast, “Piano Meditations,” in which he improvises a 45-minute concert. The music he creates is generally a spontaneous or freely improvised composition with a classical approach towards thematic unity and structure.
Shara Sand (BM ’83) is the recipient of the 2019 American Psychological Association Diversity Award.
Robert Sayer (BM ’81, MM ’83) received a Global Music Award for his latest children’s album, On the Road with the Music Class. Rob is the founder and CEO of the Music Class, offering early childhood music education programs in over 1,000 schools and studios worldwide.
Neil Semer (BM ’83) was brought in by the Norwegian Opera and Hawaii Opera Theatre to coach their singers. His longtime student Barbara Hannigan won the 2018 Grammy Award for Best Classical Album for Crazy Girl Crazy.
Alex Shapiro (BM ’83) is producing an album of her entire solo piano catalog, recorded by New York pianist Adam Marks. Alex has served on the board of directors of ASCAP as its sole Symphonic & Concert writer member since 2014, and she is ASCAP’s newly elected representative on the Executive Committee of the International Council of Music Authors (CIAM)—the writers council of CISAC, a global network of authors’ societies that represents four million creators in 121 countries. CIAM members convene several times a year in cities around the world to address the many ways to fiercely protect the rights of composers, authors, and copyright holders so that they’re properly remunerated for the commercial uses of their work—an especially necessary task in this digital age.
Lauren Shapiro’s (BM ’85) article, So Much New York!, about her time in New York with MSM alumna Marie-Laure Muller (MM ’85), was published in the Bangalore Review.
Kathleen Suss (MM ’89) was appointed to Vice President for Major Gifts at Concordia College New York. Kathleen continues to serve as Executive Director of Concordia Conservatory at the College, a position she has held since 1997. Under Kathleen, the Conservatory has expanded enrollment to 1,300 students at its campuses and serving 3,000 additional individuals in its community partnerships and increasing fundraising efforts by 500%.
Peter Vinograde (BM ’71, MM ’71, DMA ’88) presented all seven Bach Toccatas at Washington, D.C.’s National Gallery in March 2019.
Sonja Williams (MM ’87), currently the Southern Division president-elect of the National Association for Music Education (NAfME), will begin her term as president in June 2020.
Daniel Bar-Hava (BM ’91, MM ’94) authored his first novel, The 36 Watchers, available on amazon.com.
Dr. Mark Elliot Bergman (MM ’95) received a 2018-19 Wyoming Arts Council Performing Arts Fellowship, awards of merit that are given in honor of excellence in the artists’ field.
Lisa Bryce (BM ’98) sang the title role in Scott Joplin’s opera Treemonisha with Trilogy: An Opera Company in Newark, New Jersey.
Dr. Robert Cassidy (MM ’92) and internationally lauded soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian opened the 40th annual Santa Ynez Valley Concert Series on Saturday, September 21, 2019 at St. Mark’s-in-the-Valley Church in Los Olivos.
Armando Castellano (MM ’98) and his ensemble, Quinteto Latino, are celebrating their 15th anniversary season. This summer Quinteto Latino, in collaboration with the Community School of Music and Arts in Mountain View, California, convened classical musicians of color from around the country for the first-ever Seminario Institute, a three-day Institute training musicians in chamber music by Latino composers, advocating for access to arts, and highlighting the diversity of classical music.
Alumnus Marlon Daniel (BM ’95) conducted Ensemble du Monde in a U.S. preview concert for the Festival International de Musique SAINT-GEORGES on January 31, 2019 at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York City. In March (16-23) he led the 2nd edition of the festival in Guadeloupe as Artistic and Music Director conducting several concerts that included alumni artists J’Nai Bridges (BM ’08) and Solomon Howard (MM ’10). The biennial event was a tribute to Joseph Bologne (1745-1799), Chevalier de Saint-Georges, the first known Black composer, a civil rights activist and legendary hero of the French Revolution. Marlon made his second appearance with the Orquesta Sinfonica Nacional de Cuba conducting works of Beethoven, Brahms, Strauss and Wagner on June 23, 2019 in Havana. He also performed two concerts this past season as a Guest Conductor with the Pazardzhik Symphony Orchestra in Bulgaria.
Dr. Susan Deaver (BM ’75, MM ’76, DMA ’94) conducted at Staller Center at Stony Brook University where she is Conductor of the University Orchestra. She is currently a faculty member at Stony Brook University, Manhattan School of Music Precollege (flute and chamber music), and LIU Post, where she is the Festival Director of the LIU Post Chamber Music Festival.
Lisa DeSpain (MM ’97) is the winner of the 2020 Zepick Modern Opera Commission – Opera Kansas. Lisa will be composing a new opera, Staggerwing, about the historical flight of Louise Thaden and Blanche Noyes as they compete and win 1936 Bendix Trophy Race — the first year the prestigious aviation competition allowed all-female teams to compete. The opera will blend the music of the 1930s — blues, syncopated jazz and Tin Pan Alley song, with classical voice and opera.
Anna Garzuly-Wahlgren (MM ’95), after 23 years as Associate Principal Flute of the Gewandhaus Orchestra, starts the next chapter of her career as the newly appointed professor for wind chamber music at the Hochschule fur Musik Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy in Leipzig.
Gila Goldstein (MM ’90), NY/NJ Chapter President of the American Liszt Society, announces the organization’s next concert to be held on January 8, 2020 at New York City’s Yamaha location.
Antonio Graci (MM ’90) composes music for film and TV. He produces and records music for Duck Dynasty, Hawaii 5-0, Pawn Stars, Walhburgers, Texas Rising, North Woods Law, Moonshiners, and Sesame Street. His music is featured on ABC, CBS, ESPN, National Geographic, A&E, MTV, Nickelodeon, Lifetime, Animal Planet, Bravo, TLC, DIY, Cinemax, Discovery, Food Network, and HBO. Tony has played drums on the Emmy Award winning documentary soundtrack The Lew Rudin Way and has played with Grammy Award winning artists the Amazing Rhythm Aces, Delbert McClinton, Leroy Parnell, and Bekka Bramlet.
Johanna Grüssner (MM ’98) is one of thirteen artists to be nominated for the 2019 Nordic Council Music Prize.
Israel Gursky (PS ’99) returned in fall 2018 for a second season as Kapellmeister and Studienleiter at Theater Bremen, where he conducted performances of Un ballo in maschera, Die Entführung aus dem Serail, and L’étoile, as well as the New Year’s Gala. Last summer he returned to the Salzburg Festival as guest coach for the festival’s Young Singers Project, then traveled to Lisbon for his tenth year as cover conductor, pianist, and preselection-judge for Operalia, Placido Domingo’s competition. As music director of New York City’s Teatro Grattacielo, he returned on September 29, 2018 to conduct Cilea’s rarely heard opera Gloria at the Gerald W Lynch Theater.
Kelly Hall-Tompkins (MM ’95) can be heard performing in the new documentary film, Fiddler: A Miracle of Miracles, celebrating the history of Fiddler on the Roof. Kelly shares, “You will hear my playing from nearly the beginning, throughout, both from our Fiddler live show and excerpts from the album The Fiddler Expanding Tradition, and actually see me featured on screen towards the end of the film! I am thrilled to have attended two private premieres, the first at the Museum of Jewish Heritage and the second at Lincoln Center, where I was also introduced to the audience. Fiddler continues to touch me so deeply and I am honored to be part of it.”
Stephen Hamilton (DMA ’94) was interviewed about organ music for Notre Dame de Paris, a book written by Antonia Felix that will be in the stores on October 1, 2019. He also performed in a concert on July 14, 2019 for the Aspen Music Festival. Highlights this fall include performances at Westminster Abbey, Queen’s College Chapel, and St. Paul Chapel, Wall Street. stephenjonhamilton.com
Shuler Hensley (BM ’90) joined the Broadway production of The Ferryman in February 2019.
Justin Hines (MM ’98) marked his 22nd year as a musician with the Education Department of the New York Philharmonic this past season. Highlights include mentorship for the Very Young Composers program, leading the Philharmonic Insights at the Atrium series, and hosting the famous Young People’s Concert series on the stage of David Geffen Hall. Justin returns as YPC co-host with Music Director Jaap Van Zweden on December 7, 2019.
Dave Isaacs (MM ’93) announces the release of his new book The Perpetual Beginner: a musician’s path to lifelong learning, available on October 8, 2019. The book is part memoir, part musical instruction manual. Through relating stories of his experiences as a young musician and music student in 1980’s New York, Isaacs describes the key lessons that shaped his musical life and how they can help any aspiring musician at any age. Dave has become known in Nashville as the “Guitar Guru of Music Row” for his work coaching musicians, songwriters, and performers. He has spent the last 25 years as a working musician, performing songwriter, and music coach in New York and Nashville.
D. D. Jackson (MM ’91) won his second Emmy Award in May. His new CD, D. D. Jackson: Live at Freedom of Sound, was released in September. D. D. shares, “It’s my first jazz effort as a leader in over 12 years and captures a moment when I was fresh off a plane from winning my second Emmy this past May. It also features some brand new compositions, as well as a re-recording of my piece For Don, originally written in memory of my mentor Don Pullen, now newly performed here in honor of another great mentor of mine who recently left us, baritone saxophonist Hamiet Bluiett.” Listen to For Don here.
Shmulik Katz (BM ’98, MM ’00) joined the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra.
Thomas Lausmann (PS ’99) joined the Metropolitan Opera as Director of Music Administration at the start of the 2019-20 season.
Marie-France Lefebvre (MM ’90) prompted Pelléas et Mélisande; was pianist, coach, and assistant conductor for Dialogues des Carmélites; and played and coached La fille du régiment at The Metropolitan Opera in the 2018-19 season. In spring 2020, Marie-France prompts Werther with Maestro Nézet-Séguin at the Met. She is also celebrating her 12th year as a professor of opera at Cleveland Conservatory of Music.
Carla López-Speziale (DMA ’98) performed in Latin American Cultural Week’s “Latin America and Spain: Within a Piano, a Voice and a Cello” alongside alumni Martin Fett (BM ’81, MM ’82) and Juan Pablo Horcasitas (MM ’12). She was the alto soloist in Mahler’s Second Symphony with the Orquesta Sinfónica de la Universidad de Guanajuato. On September 11, she performed in Buglisi Dance Theatre’s tribute to peace, Table of Silence, at Lincoln Center Plaza. Carla also performed the role of Consuelo in “Aura” at Teatro de la Ciudad and as a soloist in Wagner’s Wesendonk Lieder with Orquesta Filarmónica de Boca del Río.
Peri Mauer (BM ’88, MM ’90) had a performance of her string quartet Shadow Lake on January 15, 2019 at the Little Church Around the Corner in New York City. Afterwords, her trio for clarinet, cello, and piano, was performed on February 16, 2019 by Great Noise Ensemble in Bethesda, Maryland. An Autumn Passing, a new work for English horn and piano, and A Violin and a Piano were both premiered at the National Opera Center this past spring. Peri was honored to receive her fourth ASCAP Plus award. She was recently interviewed by the publication I Care If You Listen. Upcoming performances of her music include Pixeliance, for flute, harp, and marimba by the Da Capo Chamber Players in spring 2020.
N’Kenge (BM ’96) performed in Sophisticated Ladies directed by Emmy Award winner Andre De Sheilds at New Jersey Performing Arts Center from March 21-24 and was a featured soloist with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra under Principal Pops conductor Jack Everly in “Cirque goes Hollywood” on April 4th.
Warren Nicholson (MM ’94) was praised as “a player who lives his music deeply, performing for his own self-realization, while inviting us to join him in the process” in a review of his album Spanish Miniatures in the September/October 2019 issue of Fanfare.
Kristin Norderval (DMA ’93) was named a 2019 Discovery Grant recipient from the Opera Grants for Female Composers program through Opera America. She was one of seven women chosen to receive the $15,000 award to advance her work, The Sailmaker’s Wife.
Dr. Tomomi Ohrui (DMA ’95) gave a paper presentation at the symposium held at Yong Siew Toh Conservatory at Singapore University in October 2019.
Richard Owen (MM ’98) took on the position of Director of Music of the Adelphi Orchestra, now in its 65th season of Music for All. Currently organist and Director of Music at St. Jean Baptiste Church and of its Camerata New York Orchestra, Maestro Owen has been conducting the Adelphi Orchestra over the past six seasons, most recently as its principal conductor.
Dr. Joanne Polk (DMA ’90) returned this summer to the Manhattan in the Mountains music festival as an artistic director, faculty member, and performer. On August 10, she was the featured artist on a Manhattan in the Mountains faculty recital, “Fun in the Mountains,” celebrating the music of Peter Schickele. She was also featured on WQXR’s “Essential Piano Recordings” for her albums Fanny & Felix Mendelssohn and The Flatterer: Piano Music of Cécile Chaminade. In July, Joanne Polk was interviewed for a documentary, The Genius of Amy Beach, to be released in September 2020.
Raja Rahman (PS ’96) was appointed Director of Piano Studies at the Nevada School of the Arts and will be recording his first solo piano album this year at Sono Luminus. Concert tours this year included Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Vermont, and New York. Raja gave a special guest concert at Las Vegas’s UNLV Ham Hall on November 18, 2018. He continues to star both live and on TV as the musical half of the Vegas magic act Jarrett & Raja.
Michael Reder (MM ’96) spent his second summer in Bayreuth, Germany as a member of the chorus at the Bayreuth Festival. This fall, Michael begins his seventh season as a member of the Hamburg State Opera Chorus.
Highlights for American tenor Bryan Register (MM ’94) in the 2018–19 season include Faust in La damnation de Faust in a concert tour with Les Siècles and François-Xavier Roth, his debut for Malmö Opera as Erik in Der fliegende Holländer, and a return to La Monnaie for Tristan in Tristan und Isolde. Recent highlights include debuts at the Semperoper Dresden as Enée in Les Troyens in a new production by Lydia Steiner, and at La Monnaie in the title role of Lohengrin in a new production by Olivier Py, conducted by Alain Altinoglu; Enée in Les Troyens for Frankfurt Opera in a new production by Eva Maria Höckmayr, conducted by John Nelson; Siegmund in Die Walküre for Grange Park Opera; and Tristan in Tristan und Isolde at the Tokyo Nikikai Opera Theatre under the baton of Jesús Lopez Cobos.
Cynthia Scott (BM ’93, MM ’95) sang her final “Sunday Suppers” performance at Smoke on August 25, 2019. The most recent performance of her one-woman play One Raelette’s Journey was on September 10, 2019 at the Gloucester Theater. Other appearances include Minton’s Playhouse on September 26 and Smoke Jazz Club on October 10.
Diana Solomon-Glover (MM ’90) and composer Chandler Carter were commissioned by Opera for All Voices, a consortium of American opera companies headed by Santa Fe Opera, to write This Little Light of Mine. The opera, which dramatizes the contributions of civil rights activist and icon Fannie Lou Hamer, will premiere in 2021.
Craig Terry (’99) is nominated for a 2020 Grammy Award for his work on opera star Joyce Didonato’s album Songplay.
Kaoru Watanabe (BM ’97) had a taiko composition featured on the soundtrack of Wes Anderson’s latest film, Isle of Dogs, which is nominated for Best Animated Feature and Best Original Score.
Amelia Watkins (MM ’99) was most recently seen as the Brainy Woman, in Michael Gordon/Deborah Artman’s Acquanetta, directed by Daniel Fish at Bard. The New York Times hailed “the divine Ms. Watkins” (Ben Brantley).
Jay Zhong (BM ’94) released a new album titled Jay Zhong Plays Paganini 24 Caprices, available on Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, and CDBaby. Jay is currently Associate Concertmaster in the Santa Rosa Symphony and a member of the violin faculty at Sonoma State University.
Elaine Alvarez (BM ’02, MM ’04) sang the title role in Verdi’s Aida and Donizetti’s Anna Bolena with Opéra Royal de Wallonie in Belgium in spring 2019.
YAP Tracker, founded by Julie Baron (BM ’03, MM ‘04), turns 15 in 2019. A comprehensive online audition management website for opera, musical theatre, and concert opportunities, YAP Tracker also hosts hundreds of online applications for opera and classical music companies worldwide, streamlining the auditions process for both singers and administrators.
Jennifer Best Takeda (MM ’02) joins the Santa Fe Opera Orchestra as a section violinist in 2020.
The focus and passion of Gregory Beyer’s (MM ’98, DMA ’04) doctoral dissertation, the Afro-Brazilian Berimbau, has become a non-profit organization, Arcomusical, with a mission to spread the joy of African musical bows throughout the world. On March 10th, Projeto Arcomusical came to Brooklyn’s National Sawdust to celebrate the release their second album Spinning in the Wheel. The album became available on March 8th, 2019 on National Sawdust Tracks.
Laura Bohn (MM ’08) is making her Benaroya Hall solo debut with pianist Oana Rusu Tomai on January 11, 2020 with ROCCA (Romanian American Chamber Concerts and Arts) and members of the Seattle Symphony. She will also be a featured vocal artist and on vocal faculty at the Cortona Sessions for New Music 2020 in Cortona, Italy from May 23- June 6, 2020.
Rupert Boyd (MM ’06) released a new album, The Guitar, on the Sono Luminus label in 2019. Named KDFC (California) Album of the Week in May and ABC Classic (Australia) Album of the Week in August.
J’Nai Bridges (BM ’09) performed the title role in San Francisco Opera’s production of Carmen in June 2019 and will make her Metropolitan Opera debut as Nefertiti in Philip Glass’ Akhnaten in the 2019-20 season.
Bianca Bryan (BM ’01) was last seen as Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd and Petruchio in an all-female cast of The Taming of the Shrew. During the day, Bianca works for VPM, the Richmond NPR affiliate, as an underwriting announcer. She also hosts two television shows: The Arts Scene on VA PBS, specializing in the theater segments of the show, and Untapped VA, highlighting the Virginia beer scene, a national COX television production.
Adam Cavagnaro (MM ’09) was named one of Musical America’s 2019 Movers & Shakers of the Performing Arts – Top 30 Professionals of the Year.
Chris Cerrone’s (BM ’07) album The Pieces That Fall To Earth, made in collaboration with Wild Up and New Amsterdam records, was nominated for a 2020 Grammy in the category for Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance. Chris joined the composition faculty at Peabody Conservatory in the 2019-20 academic year. Most recently he won the 2019 American Academy of Arts and Letters Charles Ives Fellowship.
Ernesto Cervini (MM ’05) was awarded the 2019 Hagood Hardy Award for excellence in jazz composition from SOCAN (the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada). Ernesto released his sixth album as a leader, Abundance, with his quartet Turboprop, in October 2018. Modern Drummer wrote, “Cervini recalls such old-schoolers as Art Blakey and Billy Higgins…. It’s his robust, magnetic personality that fascinates consistently.” In addition to performing, Ernesto launched Orange Grove Publicity in 2014 and continues to work as a publicist.
Wei-Ping Chou (BM ’03) joined the faculty of the Peabody conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University for the 2018–19 academic year. She currently holds the Second Horn position with the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra/Washington National Opera Orchestra.
Anna Clyne (MM ’05) was selected by the League of American Orchestras and New Music USA to serve as the Music Alive Composer-in-Residence with the Berkeley Symphony through the 2018–19 season.
Ashley Daneman (MM ’09) released People Are Fragile, a new album about pain, recovery, and rebirth on March 1. She shares, “The entire album feels very exposed and intimate, like a deep, late-night conversation between old friends who don’t spare each other’s feelings.” On People Are Fragile, Ashley offers up her pain and healing in ways both visible and audible, inviting the listener to celebrate what humans can become even after they’ve broken. The album features eight original compositions, two spirituals with pianist Rufus Ferguson, and one song from Gershwin’s Porgy And Bess.
Brenda Earle Stokes (MM ’04) debuted “The Motherhood Project”, a collection of songs Brenda composed about her experiences as a mother, on Sunday, January 26, 2020, at Rockwood Music Hall. The project features Brenda on piano/vocals/compositions, MSM faculty member and fellow mom Ingrid Jensen, with Julia Adamy on bass and Ross Pederson on drums. More info here.
Gabriel Escudero (MM ’08, DMA ’13) joined the Piano faculty of Conservatorio Superior de Musica de Murcia in Spain. Highlights in Gabriel’s 2018-19 season include performing as the soloist in the Beethoven Triple Concerto with Trio Bacarisse at Musikverein in Vienna on November 8, 2018 and at the Mozarteum in Salzburg on January 11, 2019.
Daryl Freedman (MM ’09) made her Metropolitan Opera debut singing Schwertleite in Die Walküre in April 2019.
Blake Friedman (MM ’09) joined Chautauqua Opera in the 2019 season as Count Almaviva in the company’s production of Il Barbiere di Siviglia.
In the 2018–19 season, Dr. Reiko Füting (DMA ’00) received commissions from the Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir in Jena, Germany; German Capitol Cultural Fond for the gamba consort Art d’Echo in Potsdam; violinist Miranda Cuckson; 5 Borough Music Festival for the longleash piano trio; and I-Park Foundation for accordionist Matti Pulki. Reiko taught at the Atlantic Music Festival and Collaborative Composers Initiative of the Unheard-of Ensemble. He held a residency at Arts, Letters & Numbers; was invited to lecture at Leipzig University; and released his second CD, distant song. Performances of his works include Portrait concert with the Ensemble BlauerReiter in Munich, Germany; Portrait concert with the vocal ensemble AuditivVokal Dresden and the viol consort Art d’Echo Potsdam in Magdeburg, Germany; Portrait concert with the vocal ensemble AuditivVokal Dresden and the viol consort Art d’Echo Potsdam as part of the Heinrich Schütz Musikfest; the premiere of Schattentanz, a collaboration with the New Chamber Ballet; the premiere of Simulacrum, a joint opera project with his students; and tanz.tanz for solo violin as part of an AMOC production.
Japanese virtuoso guitarist Junpei Ohtsubo premiered Three Rhapsodies by Dr. Lyudmila German (MM ’98, DMA ’03) on March 23, 2019 at South Oxford Space in Brooklyn, New York and performed it in Tokyo, Japan in April.
Kirill Gerstein (BM ’99, MM ’00), called “one of the distinguished classical artists of his generation” by the New York Times, had two performance at Carnegie Hall in March 2019. Kirill partnered with pianist and composer Thomas Àdes on March 13 and was the solo pianist with the Boston Symphony Orchestra on March 20.
Devin Gray (MM ’08) led groups and played his compositions all over Europe this past year, performing in Berlin, Stockholm, Lisbon, Warsaw, Geneva, Vienna, Copenhagen, Oslo, and London. Devin made several recording dates as a sideman in Europe and New York City and started his own record label called Rataplan Records. The first release, Dirigo Ratplan II, showcased a striking set of original Gray compositions featuring saxophonist Ellery Eskelin, bassist Michael Formanek, and trumpeter Dave Ballou. It included a six-day tour on the East Coast in October and performances in Switzerland in Geneva and Zurich in December. Devin also self-produced, led, and self-released two new recordings of his compositions Meta Cache for quartet and Cloudsounds for trio.
Citlalli Guevara (MM ’05) and Slavina Zhelezova (MM ’08, DMA ’17), the Guevara & Zhelezova Piano Duo, realized their longtime dream in August 2018 of launching the Xalapa International Festival and Academy, of which they are co-founders and artistic directors. The forum included recitals, orchestral concerts, an international piano competition, and master classes, and gathered international luminaries, including Philippe Entremont, Jorge Federico Osorio, the Xalapa Symphony Orchestra, and Maestro Lanfranco Marcelletti, along with young international pianists. The festival opened with the duo’s performance of Poulenc’s Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra with the Xalapa Symphony Orchestra under Maestro Marcelletti. The duo recently released their debut album, Midnight Conversations, on Centaur, and were praised by critics for their “daring,” “virtuosic,” and “blistering” interpretations (Piano News) and for their “velvety,” “gorgeous,” and “opulent” sound, “wonderful sense of dialog and balance,” and “brilliant performance” (American Record Guide). Highlights of the upcoming season include their recital debut at the Cervantino International Music Festival (Guanajuato, Mexico), recitals at the Myra Hess Memorial Concert Series (Chicago), a recital debut in Cuba at the Havana International Piano Festival, and appearances as soloists in the Schnittke Concerto with the Boca del Rio Symphony Orchestra. The duo will also embark on their first recital tour of China.
In December 2018, Citlalli was appointed general director of the Superior Institute of Music of the State of Veracruz.
Vijay Gupta (’04) was a 2018 MacArthur Fellow. “Vijay Gupta is a social justice advocate and violinist who is forging effective pathways to bring music to the marginalized and establishing new possibilities for social connection and support. Recognized by the MacArthur Foundation for their creativity and potential, the MacArthur Fellows will each receive a no-strings-attached $625,000 award, encouraging them to continue to innovate, take risks, and pursue their creative vision.”
Mila Henry (MM ’08) was appointed Artistic Director of American Opera Projects. She will be the company’s first Artistic Director since conductor Steven Osgood held the position from 2002-2008. Coined “a stalwart contributor to the contemporary opera scene” by Opera Ithaca (where she will lead a double bill of Francesca Caccini and Kamala Sankaram in April 2019), Mila has made herself known as a versatile player who is comfortable leading at both piano and podium.
She was Music Director for Words on the Street (Baruch Performing Arts Center) and These Girls Have Demons (Pittsburgh CLO SPARK), Conductor for Julius Eastman’s The Moon’s Silent Modulation (Lincoln Center), and Vocal Director for Ripe Time’s Obie-winning The World is Round (BAM). As a pianist, she premiered OPERA America’s Fierce Grace: Jeannette Rankin (Library of Congress), Opera Philadelphia’s We Shall Not Be Moved (The Apollo, Dutch National Opera) and Beth Morrison Projects’ Thumbprint (LA Opera). In addition, she has participated in all seven PROTOTYPE festivals, and performs regularly with the band Opera Cowgirls. Her recordings include Love & Trouble (Roven Records) with Adrienne Danrich and Voices of Women (Affetto Records) with Heather Fetrow.
Maeve Höglund (MM ’05) kicked off the 2018-19 season singing Konstanze in Die Entführung aus dem serail, 1st lady in Die Zauberflöte, and the title role in Lucia di Lammermoor with the Maryland Lyric Opera. Maeve also sang Gretel in Hänsel und Gretel with the Portland Symphony Orchestra and then sang Leïla in Les pêcheurs des perles with Kansas City Lyric Opera. She ended the season singing Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis at the Grant Park Music Festival in Chicago. Most recently, Maeve performed at the Edinburgh Festival, which included her colleague and dear friend Missy Mazzoli’s opera Breaking the Waves. Most recently she was featured in the album, Summer & Winter Songs, available here.
Myra Huang (MM ’01) joined the Steinway Artist roster in 2019.
Wang Jie (BM ’05, MM ’07) is busy finishing her comic opera Rated R for Rat, starting a new symphony on a commission from the Buffalo Philharmonic, and creating a new work for classical guitarist TY Zhang for his Carnegie Hall debut.
Hyong Jo (MM ’09) was featured in August 2019 in a four-page spread in the leading Korean classical music magazine The Journal of Music. See Part I and Part II.
In December 2019, Suzanne Kantorski (’09) performed the role of Franca at the Lyric Opera of Chicago alongside Renee Fleming in The Light in the Piazza.
In September 2018, Mira Kim (MM ’07) founded Bella Music Foundation Inc., a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to supporting musically talented blind individuals of all ages by presenting opportunities for world-class education in classical music. This fall, the organization is awarding scholarships to distinguished students.
JoAnn Lamolino (MM ’02) recently received tenure as Associate Principal/Second Trumpet of the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra in Honolulu. JoAnn is also a member of the Honolulu Brass Quintet, performing recitals and education outreach concerts throughout the Hawaiian Island chain.
Nathaniel LaNasa (BM ’08) and Gregory Feldmann, winners of the Joy In Singing International Art Song Competition, present an evening of “Degenerate Music” at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Hall on February 27, 2020. For more info: http://bit.ly/JoyInSinging
Tae Yeon Lim (MM ’06, PS ’07) performed Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4 with the Vicente Orchestra at the first annual Santa Monica Music Festival in June 2019.
Eunjung Lee (MM ’03) was appointed as a principal pianist and opera coach at the Salzburg Opera House in August 2018.
Joseph London (MM ’05) made his Broadway debut as Mary Sunshine in Chicago, the Musical.
Mike Lormand (MM ’03) performed the U.S. premiere of Marius Constant’s Gli Elementi Trombone Concerto on January 26th, 2019 with Riverside Symphony at Alice Tully Hall. A member of International Contemporary Ensemble, WeatherVest, Deviant Septet, IRIS Orchestra, and Riverside Symphony, Mike also plays frequently with groups such as Talea Ensemble, Metropolitan Opera, Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra, The Knights, New York City Ballet, American Symphony Orchestra, American Ballet Theater, and St. Paul Chamber Orchestra.
Carrie-Ann Matheson (PS ’00) conducted two performances of Mozart’s La Finta Giardiniera at Opernhaus Zurich on February 24 and March 8, 2019.
Sofya Melikyan (MM ’06) released two critically acclaimed recordings, both of which have received praise from critics. Spanish Piano Music was given a 10/10 rating by the German magazine Klassik Heute, which they chose as a “pick of the week.” Her next CD, Women, was awarded the Golden Disc by Melomano magazine; received a positive review by Pizzicato magazine; and was recently lauded in Limelight, Australia’s classical music and arts publication.
Jannina Norpoth (BM ’03) and her ensemble, Publiquartet, are nominated for a 2020 Grammy in the category for Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance.
In the 2018-19 season Isabelle O’Connell (MM ’01) curated and performed a concert of chamber music at the National Gallery of Ireland. She was invited to give a workshop for the Irish Composers Collective, culminating in a concert of six world premieres for solo piano. With her six piano ensemble Grand Band, Isabelle performed at the Detroit Institute of Art, with music by Julius Eastman, Harriet Steinke, Paul Kerekes and Missy Mazzoli. They also performed at Yale University’s Sprague Hall. In December 2018, Isabelle curated and performed Messiaen’s complete Vingt Regards sur l’Enfant Jesus. She will participate in another complete cycle of this work in December 2019 at Bard College, where she is on the Visiting Piano Faculty.
Linda May Han Oh (MM ’08) joins Berklee College of Music’s Bass Department as associate professor.
Nelson Ojeda (PS ’04) premiered three works by José Luis Greco at the Queens New Music Festival in May 2019. Other recent projects included a recording of Eduardo Grau’s Second Piano Concerto with the Bratislava Symphony Orchestra and a recital of Beethoven sonatas at the Puerto Rico Summer Music Festival.
Kariné Poghosyan (MM ’05, DMA ’07) performed a solo recital at Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall in June 2019.
In the 2018–19 season, Leandra Ramm (’05) sang the roles of The Squirrel/The White Cat/The Shepherd in L’enfant et les sortilèges with Pacific Symphony. These performances were broadcast on KUSC radio live from the Segerstrom Center for the Arts. Ramm performed in Little Women with Island City Opera, Lucinda y las Flores de la Nochebuena with San Francisco Opera Guild, and La Llorona with Opera Cultura. She was a featured soloist with San Francisco City Chorus, Solo Opera, Cappella SF, and San Francisco Renaissance Voices and a solo guest artist at the California Theatre. Ramm portrayed Judy Garland to rave reviews in The Boy from Oz with Theatre Rhinoceros and proudly joined the roster of UIA Talent Agency this season. She was a winner of a career grant from Opera America for Career Blueprints for Singers.
Nolan Robertson (BM ’05) was appointed Director, Artistic Projects at Carnegie Hall in September 2018.
Anthony Roth Costanzo (MM ’08) received the 2019 Musical America Vocalist of the Year award and received a 2019 Grammy nomination in the category “Best Classical Solo Vocal Album.” He performs the title role of Akhnaten at the Metropolitan Opera in the 2019-20 season.
Colburn Community School faculty member Keren Schweitzer (DMA ’01) and LA Philharmonic member Jason Lippmann (BM ’98), married since 2005, will perform a chamber music recital at the Colburn School on September 14, 2019 in Los Angeles.
Michael Scott (BM ’07) was a 2018 International Opera Awards Bursary Recipient. In the 2018–19 season, Michael performed in Tosca with Nederlandse Reisopera, Elias with Theater an der Wien, Macbeth with Opera Vlaanderen, and in the world premiere of Les Bienveillentes with Opera Vlaanderen.
In the 2019-20 season Amy Shoremount-Obra (BM ’01, MM ’03) will appear with Odyssey Opera (Boston) in the title role in Pacini’s rarely heard opera Maria, Regina d’Inghilterra. She will also make her debut in the title role of Puccini’s Turandot at Opera Grand Rapids opposite famed tenor Marcello Giordani. This fall she begins her third year as an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Voice at The Conservatory of Music at Brooklyn College.
Stephen A. Slater (BM ’01) accepted the position of Second Horn with Virginia Symphony Orchestra for the 2019/20 season.
Walter Smith III (MM ’05) joined Berklee College of Music as chair of the Woodwind Department in May 2019.
Alissa Stahler (MM ’09) has been busy with regular gigs in New York City at Jules Bistro with alumni Angelo DiLoreto and Sean Richey, Tomi Jazz with the Kengo Yamada Quintet, and The Dead Poet’s Lamplight Sessions with alumnus Olli Hirvonen. This past summer, Alissa joined fellow alumnae Lindsay Rider and Katie Copland for a benefit concert entitled “So Far” at Joe’s Pub. Proceeds from the concert benefited Young At Arts (YAA), a performing arts educational organization dedicated to helping young people expand their horizons and build character, compassion and commitment through music, drama and movement. Alissa is also a proud member of Actors’ Equity. To learn more about Alissa, visit alissastahler.com.
Magdalena Stern-Baczewska (DMA ’08), Lecturer in Music and Director of the Music Performance Program at Columbia University, has released a DVD album with Tan Dun’s Martial Arts Cycle for Piano, Violin, and Violoncello. She has given master classes and performances at New York University, Beijing Keystone Academy, Kasteel Amerongen (The Netherlands), Reid Hall (Paris, France), and Rocky Ridge Music Center (Colorado) and at the Florida State Music Teachers Association Conference. She also gave lectures for the Music Educators Association of New Jersey, the Columbia Global Center Beijing, and the Maitian Center Beijing. She is Artistic Director and chairman of the jury of the 66th Kosciuszko Foundation Chopin Piano Competition. For the past two summers she has taught Music Humanities in Paris at Reid Hall, Columbia Global Center.
Brenda Earle Stokes (MM ’04) released her new album, Solo Sessions Volume 1, on November 15, 2019. Recorded in a single four-hour session in her hometown of Sarnia, Ontario, Canada, Brenda explores a wide spectrum of material, including jazz standards, original compositions and seldom-heard compositions by George Shearing and Steve Swallow.
Dr. Maxine Thevenot (MM ’01, DMA ’06) released her latest CD, Prairie Sounds on the RavenCD label. This is her 16th CD release since 2006. This will be the first commercially available recording of the magnificent McGuigan Organ, Casavant Frères 1930/1993, Holy Rosary Cathedral, Regina, Saskatchewan. In November 2019, Maxine reconstructed and conducted the first New Mexican performance of Thomas Tallis’ mega-motet Spem in Alium with her professional vocal ensemble, Polyphony: Voices of New Mexico.
Matthew Tutsky (BM ’07) was appointed as principal harpist with Portland Opera, Oregon Ballet Theatre, and Colorado Springs Philharmonic. He also joins the faculty of the University of Portland and Reed College.
Charenée Wade (BM ’04, MM ’06) was appointed a Jazz Studies teaching artist at the Peabody conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University.
Chun Wang (PS ’09) won first-prize in the Premio Jaen International Piano Competition and released a CD under the Naxos Records label in December 2018. The album made Top 50 Picks in “New Classical Releases” on Spotify and was played on BBC Radio 3 for their curated program in classical music. Chun Wang also won first-prize at the Panama International Piano Competition, which took place in October 2018.
Lecolion Washington (MM ’01) was appointed Executive Director of the Community Music Center of Boston.
Melissa Wegner (MM ’05) was named one of Musical America’s 2019 Movers & Shakers of the Performing Arts – Top 30 Professionals of the Year.
Anna William’s (BM ’08) latest album with Neave Trio, Celebrating Piazzolla, is in the first round of voting for the 62nd annual Recording Academy/GRAMMYs in the Classical Music Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance category.
Dr. Carol Williams (DMA ’01) will make her debut at Royal Festival Hall in London on April 20, 2020 with music by Hendrix, Giles Swayne and Ethel Smith. Enjoy Carol’s latest composition, Symphony of Time; performances on video; and her website.
Jorell Williams (MM ’08, PS ’09) performed in New York City Opera’s show As One in a co-production with American Opera Projects and Kaufman Music Center on June 1 and 8, 2019.
Sarah Williams (MM ’06) was named one of Musical America’s 2019 Movers & Shakers of the Performing Arts – Top 30 Professionals of the Year.
Dr. Lan-In Winnie Yang (MM ’04, PS ’05) is cofounder and music director of the non-profit organization MuseConnect. She and pianist Tzu-Yi Chen, members of Renaissance Piano Duo, had their Carnegie Hall debut on April 12, 2019.
Miguel Zenón (MM ’01) is nominated for a 2020 Grammy Award for Best Latin Jazz Album.
Darnell Abraham (MM ’13), who has been a member of the Hamilton “And Peggy” Company in San Francisco since it opened earlier this year in Puerto Rico, officially succeeded Isaiah Johnson in the role of George Washington in August 2019. The production runs through January 5, 2020 at the SHN Orpheum Theatre.
Marina Aikawa (MM ’19) won a section violin audition in June 2019 for the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, D.C. and began trials with the orchestra in September.
Yasmin Alami (MM ’08) and Evan Kory (BM ’07, MM ’09, DMA ’17) joined together in a virtuosic duo-piano recital on Sunday, February 3 at the Benderley-Kendall Opera House in Patagonia, AZ.
Fabio Álvarez (MM ’17) released his album “Musical Zodiac” with the recording label Orpheus Classical dedicated to the American composer George Crumb. The album was presented on November 26, 2018 at Manuel de Falla´s Hall (Palacio Longoria) in Madrid.
Michael Anderson (BM ’14, MM ’16) received a 2019 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions Regional Encouragement Award.
Aris Antoniades (BM ’16, MM ’18) had his latest symphonic work, Chiaroscuro, recorded and broadcast by the National Radio Symphony Orchestra of Greece (ERT), conducted by Maestro Manolis Lorentzos. The recording took place in September 2018 at the Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation’s studios in Athens and was aired on national radio on a number of occasions during the 2018–19 season.
Justin Austin (BM ’14, MM ’17) made his Bayerische Staatsoper debut as Bello in Andreas Dresen’s new production of Puccini’s La Fanciulla del West.
SeokJong Baek (BM ’16, MM ’18) is a 2019 Adler Fellow at San Francisco Opera. This season he performed the roles of Morales in Carmen, Gregorio in Romeo et Juliette, and the Naval Captain and Inn Keeper in Puccini’s Manon Lescaut.
Mercedes Beckman (MM ’15) won the audition for the Second Alto Saxophone opening in the Jazz Ambassadors, the premiere touring Army big band. Since graduating, she has played with Christian McBride, Jeff Tain Watts, Arturo O’Farrill, and Marcus Printup; recorded with John Lee and Freddie Hendrix; become a permanent member of the DIVA jazz orchestra; led her own sextet for Jazz at Lincoln Center’s outreach concerts; and become a Vandoren artist.
Steven Behnke (BM ’10) started the Patriot Brass Ensemble at MSM in 2009, which performs free concerts for veterans. The group is on track to give 300 performances in 2018, with units in 17 cities, using 600 brass and percussion musicians. Patriot Brass Ensemble recently joined Local 802 as the very first group of their kind to go union.
Caroline Braga (BM ’14) is in her last year of law school at Seton Hall Law School in New Jersey and will be clerking for the Honorable Bonnie Mizdol, assignment judge for the Superior Court of New Jersey.
Patrick Brancato (BM ’13) finished his second single, “Chasin’ Every Mile.” His first song, “Still There,” can be found on Spotify, iTunes, and YouTube and was #1 Song of the Week on Trend City Radio. Patrick was recently involved in the live sketch show Idriss Live, created and hosted by standup comedian Idriss (insta: IdrissTV). He joins the NYWinterfest 2020 as Benjamin in The Circle of Eyes.
Maria Fernanda Brea (BM ’15) sang the title role in the premiere of Lady Swanwhite with Opera Tampa on February 9, 2019.
Émilie Rose Bry (MM ’13) performed the role of Armida in Händel’s Rinaldo at the Theater an der Wien, Tchaïkovsky Concert Hall, and the Royal Opéra of Versailles in the 2018–19 season. A recent winner of the prestigious Adami Prize at the Concours Opéra en Arles, she sang the roles of Amore, Valetto, and Pallade in Monteverdi’s L’Incoronazione di Poppea at the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires in September.
Alexander Bui (BM ’16, MM ’18) has been invited to perform Felix Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in G minor with the Rutgers Symphony Orchestra on November 16, 2019 as a result of winning the Rutgers Concerto Competition in Spring 2019.
Kayla Burggraf (MM ’16) won the position of Piccolo with the Kansas City Symphony in spring 2019.
Jerome Burns (MM ’16) took part in an intensive two-year study of Karlheinz Stockhausen’s opera cycle Licht at the Koningklijk Conservatorium Den Haag. The program culminated in a monumental performance during the 2019 Holland Festival in Amsterdam where over 20 hours of the opera cycle were presented. Burns, who graduated from Manhattan School of Music with a Master of Music degree in trumpet performance in 2012, performed the solo Michael’s Reise, a powerful trumpet concerto which demands both technical mastery and a strong command of the stage, as the instrumentalists are also part of the on-stage choreography in Stockhausen’s works. The New Yorker wrote that Burns “swaggered brilliantly” through the virtuosic solo and the New York Times called his performance “a joy to watch.” Burns currently lives in Europe, where he is pursuing his passion of exploring and incorporating trumpet in heavy metal music.
Corrine Byrne (MM ’12) was appointed Chair of Vocal Studies at Longy School of Music of Bard College.
Andrea Carroll (BM ’12) received a 2018 Richard Tucker Career Grant. This spring she returned to Houston Grand Opera as Maria in West Side Story and gave recitals under the auspices of the Vienna State Opera and the Vienna Philharmonic.
Dr. Jenny Q Chai (MM ’06, PS ’07, DMA ’13) joins UC Berkeley piano faculty in fall 2019.
Colton Chapman (MM ’19) recently curated the concert series “New York Experimental Guitarists: Interchange” for aspiring plucked string players of all musical backgrounds who share a love of contemporary music. The series provides a space for musicians to share their personal styles, inspire composers to write for the different types of guitar, premiere new solo/duo/chamber music by upcoming or forgotten composers, and bring the instrument to a wider audience of open-minded and diverse individuals. Colton is also releasing an EP for his dissonant metal band, Dysthymia, entitled Phantom Love, and premiering new music written for flute and guitar with his duo partner, Francesca Leo (MM ’20), for an upcoming concert this fall.
Dominic Cheli (BM ’14) made his Carnegie Hall debut on March 12, 2019 in a solo recital in Weill Recital Hall.
As the pianist of Cheng² Duo, Silvie Cheng (BM ’13, MM ’15) released her third album on the German classical label audite in May 2019, as part of a trilogy of European recordings each focusing on music from France, Spain, and Russia. The new album, titled “Russian Legends”, is a 2-CD set of works featuring the cello-piano sonatas of Prokofiev, Rachmaninov, and Shostakovich, alongside lesser-known jewels of the repertoire by Tchaikovsky, Scriabin, Glazunov, and Arensky. The duo’s previous albums, Violoncello del fuego (2018) and Violoncelle français (2016), have been lauded by international press and publications in France, the Benelux countries, Germany, the UK, Canada, and USA for their “phenomenal virtuosity”, “maturity and perfection”, “extremely imaginative and personal interpretation”, “taste, sure flair for phrasing, and tonal beauty”. Based in NYC between tours, Silvie presents recitals regularly at the National Arts Club and made her solo debut with the New Amsterdam Symphony Orchestra last season. Highlights of the upcoming 2019-20 season will include a 2-week tour throughout Chile, her Beethoven Triple Concerto debut with Symphony Nova Scotia, and recitals in Los Angeles, Hamburg, Vancouver, and Montreal. For more information, visit cheng2duo.com and silviecheng.com.
Julia Choi (PS ’17) won a position with The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra in spring 2019.
Kidon Choi (MM ’15) joined the 2018-19 Lindemann Young Artist Development Program.
Emmet Cohen (MM ’14) won the American Pianists Association’s Grand Prize. As the recipient of the 2019 Cole Porter Fellowship, Cohen will receive a $50,000 prize, the opportunity to record with Mack Avenue Records, two years of career management, and a two-year stint as artist-in-residence at the University of Indianapolis. Learn more here.
Juan Pablo Contreras (MM ’12)
Juan Pablo Contreras (MM ’12) is announced as the 2019-20 Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra Sound Investment composer. Juan recently received a 2019 Latin Grammy Best Arrangement nomination for the title track of his debut orchestral album Mariachitlán. His new work, spotlighting the Mexican wrestling he watched growing up in Guadalajara, Lucha Libre!, will have its world premiere at LACO’s orchestral concerts on March 28 and 29, 2020.
Derek Cooper (MM ’14) joined the Hoff-Barthelson Music School in Scarsdale, New York this fall to teach composition and musicianship courses. This past year, Derek premiered numerous works, including Piano Etude No. 1 Unleashed at (le) poisson rouge; Crystal Caverns by the Iridium Quartet at Illinois State University; Whispers by Ekmeles Vocal Ensemble at the DiMenna Center for Classical Music; Niulang and Zhinu for erhu quartet; Ready to Kill by members of Blueshift Ensemble in Memphis, Tennessee; and Insomnia Rain for by the Cowan-Cicchillitti Duo at the 21st Century Guitar conference in Ottawa, Canada.
Lauren Curet (BM ’18) wrote, directed, and starred in her play, Therapy, based on her own experiences and those of other #MeToo survivors. It played at the Secret Theatre in Long Island City in July and August 2019, receiving positive reviews from audience members.
After 15 years of working with private clients under her own name, Courtney Cutchins (MM ’16) founded Seadragon Songhouse to help people empower their voices and meet their creative goals. The studio was recently featured in VoyageATL and Roswell Magazine.
Marc Day (BM ’11) was promoted to Director of Special Events and Stewardship at Manhattan School of Music in August 2019.
Nicole DeLuca (BM ’16) made her television debut as Jessie McQuigg on ABC’s Quantico in Season 3, Episode 10. The episode and TV series is also streamed on Netflix and Amazon.
Ryan DeWeese (BM ’16) recorded on Michael Buble’s album Love, which was released in November 2018. Ryan also performed in the Jakarta International Jazz Festival and the Sitka Jazz Festival and is playing lead and second trumpet with the Disneyland Band.
Jill Dewsnup (MM ’10), director of outreach and a member of the board of St. George Opera, performed as the soprano soloist in “The Music of Christmas” in Kaysville, Utah and in “Le Regine: A Lecture Recital” with pianist Emily Williams in November 2018. Jill also performed in a production of Orphée et Eurydice at Lyric Opera of Chicago, which was broadcast on PBS’s Great Performances in January 2019.
James Diaz (MM ’18) was awarded the 2018 Bogotá Philharmonic Prize in Composition for his recent piece, Frack[in]g for orchestra. James has also been selected as the 2019 composer-in-residence for the Medellin Philharmonic.
Keelan Dimick (BM ’13) was a finalist for the 2019 American Pianists Association–Jazz Division.
Last year, Suzzanne Douglas (MM ’15) wrote the title song for Happy Yummy Chicken, an Indie film featuring alumna Ruby Choi (MM ’15), and co-starred in the feature film Really Love with Blair Underwood. In 2019, Suzzanne co-starred in the Netflix limited series When They See Us directed by Ava DuVernay. She also received a professorship at Borough of Manhattan Community College.
Anna Dugan (MM ’16) was a Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions Semi-Finalist, a National Finalist at Houston Grand Opera, and is a 2019 Merola Artist.
Karly Epp (MM ’17) joined the jazz voice faculty at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada.
Steven Feifke (MM ’18) was one of 14 semifinalists in the 2019 Thelonious Monk Piano Competition. This past year, Steven toured internationally as a solo artist and as a sideman and performed a concert in Vienna called “The Music of Steven Feifke.” He was commissioned to compose an orchestral piece that debuted in August 2019 at the Next Generation Festival in Florence, Italy. This fall, Steven is recording studio orchestral arrangements for Tony Award winner Santino Fontana and touring in Japan, as well as being a featured guest artist clinician at Moravian College. He will be playing with his band, the Steven Feifke Big Band, at Hudson Hall and with Steve Tyrell at the Carlisle in New York City throughout December 2019.
Alison Fierst (’18) won the position of Associate Principal Flute with the New York Philharmonic.
Jessica Fishenfeld (MM ’15) made her New York City Opera debut in June 2019 in the world premiere of Stonewall.
Salina Fisher (MM ’19) is the 2019 Creative New Zealand Composer-in-Residence at Victoria University of Wellington’s New Zealand School of Music—Te Kōkī. The talented young composer graduated last month and will be returning to her hometown of Wellington for the twelve-month residency. Read more about Salina and her upcoming residency here.
Alaysha Fox (BM ’13, MM ’15) was a 2019 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions Finalist. She joins LA Opera’s Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artist Program for the 2019-20 season.
Chelsea Friedlander (MM ’12), Athlone Artist, made her Nashville Opera debut singing Olympia in Tales of Hoffmann on April 4, 2019.
Ben Grow (MM ’16) conducted the New York City premiere of two one-act operas, Josephine and After Life by Tom Cipullo with Chelsea Opera on December 1, 2018.
Miho Hazama (MM ’12) is a 2020 Grammy nominee for Best Jazz Ensemble Album.
Jake Hertzog (MM ’17) was promoted to Senior Instructor of Guitar and the Jazz Area Coordinator for the new Jazz Studies Program at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.
Zhihua Hu (MM ’17) released her second album, From China, Asia to the West, in August 2019. This season, Zhihua appeared with the Asian Cultural Symphony of the USA in David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center on September 6 and will be performing her duet composition Autumn Wind with American clarinetist and hichiriki performer Thomas Piercy in Bargemusic at Brooklyn Bridge Park on October 25. The Chinese Music Ensemble of New York will present two of her compositions, The Fantasy of West Lake and Beautifully Decorated So, on November 17.
Briana Elyse Hunter (MM ’08, PS ’09) performed in New York City Opera’s show As One in a co-production with American Opera Projects and Kaufman Music Center on June 1 and 8, 2019. She was featured in the February 2019 edition of Opera News.
Stephanie Jabre Miller (MM ’15) is a 2019 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions Regional Finalist.
Kalyn Jang (BM ’13) earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from the Massachusetts General Hospital Institute of Health Professions and passed the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) for registered nurses.
Dasol Jeong (PS ’17) won a job with the Toronto Symphony.
Ilya Kazantsev (MM ’12) and his ensemble, Hermitage Piano Trio, are nominated for a 2020 Grammy in the category for Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance.
Paull-Anthony Keightley (MM ’15) appeared as Colline alongside alumna Elena Perroni (MM ’13) as Mimi in La Bohème; as Badger & Parson in Cunning Little Vixen; and as Zuniga in Carmen with West Australian Opera in 2018. He joined Deutsche Oper Berlin for the 2018–19 season and performed in thirteen mainstage productions.
Andrew King (MM ’19) joins the Adler Fellowship Program at the San Francisco Opera in January 2020 for a two-year appointment as the pianist for the young artist program at the opera house.
Keith Kirkpatrick (BM ’14) joined Capgemini as an Artificial Intelligence and Data Science Consultant in August 2019.
Brian Krock (MM ’13) was the recipient of a 2019 Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composer Award. The title of his award-winning composition is Stinson Beach.
Astrid Kuljanic (MM ’15) presented her music at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Millenium Stage on June 26, 2019. The performance was a musical exploration of Croatian culture and featured jazz, world, and original music, as well as traditional song and dance performed by Hrvatska Ruža folklore ensemble.
Singer-songwriter and zither player Joyce Kwon (MM ’13) released her debut album Dream of Home. Joyce’s individualized sound blends modern indie folk with traditional music of Korea and the States, while her lyrics center on her experience of growing up Asian in America and conversely, on her experience returning to Asia as an adult and being viewed as an outsider there, too. Learn more here: joycekwon.com/dream-of-home/
Angela Joy Lamb (MM ’17) made her role debut as La Contessa di Almaviva in two productions of Le Nozze di Figaro at both The Berlin Opera Academy and The Lyric Opera Studio Weimar in summer 2019.
Mia Laity (BM ’15) won the assistant concertmaster position with Charlottesville Opera.
Alexander Lane (BM ’16) was appointed Assistant Principal/Utility Horn of the Florida Orchestra for the 2019–20 season.
Brittany Lasch (BM ’10) won the 2019 S&R Foundation Washington Award, which recognizes talented emerging artists in music, dance, and visual arts, especially those who contribute to international cultural collaboration and push the boundaries of their artistic and performance practices.
Alexis Lee (MM ’11) joined the faculty of Belmont University.
Earl Lee (MM ’13) was appointed the new associate conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra in September 2018.
Mingjie Lei (MM ’13) won the Song Prize at the Cardiff Singer of the World Competition in June 2019.
Christopher Lindgren (MM ’18) won a position with the Charleston Symphony Orchestra.
Niru Liu (MM ’15, PS ’16) joined Wolf Trap Opera as a Filene Artist in summer 2019. She was also a 2018-19 Season Young Artist with LA Opera.
Alex LoRe (MM ’11) just released his new album Karol on Challenge Records International. With a strong upbringing in classical music, Alex LoRe’s playing and compositions are influenced by a variety of genres, ranging from European classical music to today’s most influential artists on both the jazz and popular music scenes. LoRe regularly performs at Smalls Jazz Club, The Jazz Gallery, and Jazz Standard. Internationally, he has performed throughout the Netherlands, Australia, Israel, and Canada.
Dr. Yangzhi Ma (MM ’12, DMA ’18) joined the Composition faculty of the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing.
In 2019 Shaina Martinez (MM ’18) won 1st place in the Russell C. Wonderlic Competition, 2nd place in the Opera NEO Voice Competition, 3rd place in the Junior Division for the Young Patronesses of the Opera Voice Competition, 1st place in the Talents of the World 2nd International Voice Competition, and 3rd place in the XXI Concurso Internacional de Canto Lirico. In summer 2019, Shaina joined the Grant Park Music Festival as a vocal fellow in the Project Inclusion Fellowship. She joined Florida Grand Opera’s young artist program in August 2019 performing the roles of Elisetta in Il Matrimonio Segreto, Countess Ceprano in Rigoletto, and Kate Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly.
Emma McDermott (PS ’16) made her role debut as Aida at the Teatro Antico in Taormina, Sicily, on August 12, 2019.
Kevin McDonald (MM ’12) joined George Mason University’s School of Music as Adjunct Professor of Applied Jazz Percussion. Kevin also celebrates his sixth year as drummer for the U.S. Navy Band Commodores, the Navy’s premier jazz ensemble based in Washington, D.C.
Kate McNamara (MM ’12) has joined the opera company at Konzert Theater Bern.
Gonzalo Tomás Llanes Mena (MM ’16) won the 2018 audition for a full-time tenor position in the Argentina National Choir (Coro Polifónico Nacional Argentina).
Guy Mintus (BM ’15) scored the new documentary film, Fiddler: A Miracle of Miracles, which celebrates the 55-year history of Fiddler on the Roof. The documentary was released on August 23, 2019 across 150 U.S. cinemas.
Gabrielle Mirabella (BM ’10) presented a female-forward new works concert on August 21, 2018 at the Laurie Beechman Theatre in NYC. Celebrating composers of all genders who are actively writing roles for women on the musical theatre and opera stages, it included the premiere of a piece by MSM alum and current DMA candidate Scott Joiner, composer and star of the popular YouTube video, Connection Lost: The Tinder Opera. Visit www.youcandoconcert.com for more information.
Matthew Mitchener (MM ’17) won a timpani/percussion position with the U.S. Navy Concert/Ceremonial Band in January 2019.
Brian Michael Moore (BM ’15, MM ’17) received a 2018 Sara Tucker Study Grant and joined the 2018-19 Lindemann Young Artist Development Program.
Graeme Norris (MM ’14) recorded six original compositions and four jazz standards at Trading 8’s Studio in Paramus, New Jersey in October 2018. The recording, titled More Please! and released on Gut String Records, features Graeme on tenor saxophone, Jill McCarron on piano, Rob Block on guitar, Paul Gill on bass, and Phil Stewart on drums.
Robert Orbach (MM ’17) received an Encouragement Award from the Metropolitan Opera National Councils Buffalo/Toronto in the Great Lakes Division.
Megan Pachecano (MM ’10) began the 2018–19 season with Opera Saratoga performing Valencienne in The Merry Widow and Farinelli’s Trainer in the chamber version world premiere of David T. Little and Royce Vavreck’s Vinkensport, or the Finch Opera. She then sang a third season with the Metropolitan Opera Extra Chorus in Mefistofele and Otello, under the baton of Gustavo Dudamel in his Met Opera debut. Other performances included Ravel’s Shéhérazade with the Mid-Texas Symphony, a concert tour with the Colorado Pops Orchestra, a guest artist debut with the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra, and productions of The Magic Flute and La Traviata with Opera in Williamsburg. She next makes her international debut as Valencienne with Musica Viva Hong Kong, performs Frasquita in Carmen with the Helena Symphony Orchestra, and returns to Odyssey Opera in the lead role of Lady Jane Grey in Arnold Rosner’s The Chronicle of Nine, a world premiere performance and recording being co-produced with the Boston Modern Orchestra Project.
Rebecca Pacheco (MM ’10) was appointed Music Director and Co-General Director of St. George Opera in April 2019.
After thrilling audiences worldwide as Christine Daaé in the new world tour of The Phantom of the Opera, Meghan Picerno (MM ’10 PS ’11) makes her Broadway debut as Christine in October 2019.
Anne Rainwater (MM ’10) released her first full-length, solo album, J.S. Bach’s Goldberg Variations. The production side was performed entirely by women-identified artists, including Anne, as the performer, Heidi Trefethen as the producer and recording engineer, and Piper Payne as the mastering engineer. It is available on Bandcamp in both CD and digital download format album here.
Beatriz Ramirez (MM ’15) was named one of the “50 Most Powerful in Orlando,” in the Arts & Entertainment category, for championing contemporary classical music in Orlando, Florida.
Mitch Roe (MM ’12) was appointed Director of Artistic Administration at Florida Grand Opera in August 2019.
Devon M. Russo (MM ’15) is in his second year of his Doctor of Musical Arts degree in vocal performance at Boston University. Devon is part of the Voces8 Choral Scholar program. He performed in The Handmaid’s Tale with Boston Lyric Opera and was a young artist with the Boston Early Music Festival this summer.
Ji Weon Ryu (MM ’18) won the position of Principal Flute with the Louisiana Philharmonic
Josh Sanders (MM ’17) performed the role of Don Ottavio in the production of Don Giovanni with Chamber Music Northwest on July 5 and 7, 2019.
Dr. David Sauer (MM ’11) was appointed General Director of St. George Opera in April 2019.
Gordon Schermer (MM ’10) joined the music staff of Santa Fe Opera for Puccini’s La bohème and the world premiere of Poul Ruder’s The Thirteenth Child. He also played a master class for Renée Fleming.
Jeremías Sergiani Velázquez (PS ’18) won a position with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra in spring 2019.
Maria Serkin (DMA ’13) was appointed Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts.
Kavita Shah (MM ’12) was featured in a 6-page spread in Chamber Music Magazine. She was also nominated for a 2020 Grammy for her work in Miho Hazama’s album Dancer In Nowhere under the Best Jazz Ensemble Album category.
Michael Sheetz (MM ’09, MM ’10, PS ’11) was appointed Coordinator of Choral Activities at Hunter College, where he directs the College Choir and Chamber Singers Ensembles. He conducted Musica Sacra at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine on October 23, 2018, alongside its Music Director Kent Tritle, and helped to prepare the choir for performances of 2001: A Space Odyssey film screenings at the New York Philharmonic and Detroit Symphony in fall 2018.
Svetlana Shmulyian’s (MM ’15) new album Night at the Movies debuted #1 on Traditional Jazz Albums and #2 on Jazz Albums Billboard Charts.
Håkon Skogstad (’14) has had great success with his debut solo album Two Hands to Tango. The album consists of Håkon’s own compositions and arrangements and aims to reimagine the use of the piano as a solo instrument in the genre of “Nuevo tango” (pioneered by Astor Piazzolla and combining tango with classical music and jazz). Since its release, Håkon has received over 30 outstanding reviews and has held solo concerts in Norway, New York, and Buenos Aires. In 2018 he received the Paul Okkenhaug Prize for the album.
Alexa Smith (MM ’10) was appointed Chief of Staff at Manhattan School of Music in September 2018.
Yoonshin Song (PS ’09, AD ’10) is appointed Concertmaster at Houston Symphony effective from the commencement of the 2019-2020 season.
William Guanbo Su (BM ’17) was a 2019 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions winner. William also placed 2nd at the 31st annual Eleanor McCollum Competition for Young Singers Concert of Arias, which took place in the Cullen Theater of the Wortham Theater Center. He joined the 2018 Gerdine Young Artists program at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis.
Andrew Sun (PS ’16) was recently named winner of the 2018 Marilyn Horne Song Competition at Music Academy of the West. He and mezzo soprano Kelsey Lauritano embarked on a multi-city recital tour in Spring 2019 including London, New York, Chicago, and Santa Barbara. Featured on the program will be the world premiere of a song cycle by Ricky Ian Gordon. Andrew also joined the Resident Artist Program at Minnesota Opera for the 2018-2019 season as a pianist and coach.
Perri Sussman (MM ’12) performed as Kate Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly with St. Petersburg Opera Company in June 2019 and will reprise the role with Long Island Lyric Opera in October.
Billy Test (MM ’15) was a finalist for the 2019 American Pianists Association–Jazz Division.
Kristina Teuschler (MM ’15) won a job with the West Point Military Band (clarinet) and will join the ensemble formally in 2019.
Annie Rose Tindall-Gibson (BM ’14) is in the final year of her Doctor of Musical Arts degree in piano performance at the University of South Carolina. She is also Assistant Director of the Southeastern Piano Festival and an adjunct faculty member at South Carolina State University.
The latest recording by Xiayin Wang (BM ’01, MM ’03, PS ’04, DMA ’13) was praised by Gramophone magazine. Reviewer Jeremy Nicholas calls the recording “outstanding,” describing Xiayin Wang’s performance of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concertos – No 1, Op 23; No 3, Op 75, accompanied by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, as “one of the freshest and most enjoyable accounts I have ever heard,” and her interpretation of Scriabin Piano Concerto, Op 20 as “among the most deeply felt and warm-hearted accounts you will hear.”
December issue of Gramophone here.
Dr. Ray Wong (BM ’10, MM ’15, DMA ’18) and Dr. Steven Mann (MM ’09, DMA ’15) launched Steven Ray Artists, a music company that works with celebrity event planners, supplying classical, jazz, and musical theatre performers for luxury events in NYC, the Hamptons, and Los Angeles.
William Woodard (MM ’19) joined the Washington National Opera Cafritz Young Artist Training Program for the 2019-20 season.
Hongni Wu (MM ’17, PS ’18) was the winner of the 2018 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions Grand Finals and made her Covent Garden debut in the 2018-19 season as a Royal Opera House Jette Parker Young Artist. She performed the role of Flora in La Traviata and sang the role of Siebel in Gounod`s Faust on May 5, 2019.
In summer 2019, Fangsui Yang (MM ’16) organized a concert at Steinway Hall Beijing with alumnae Xiaoxi Jessica Guo (BM ’12, MM ’14) and Yuting Zhou (MM ’16) and “had an MSM reunion after the concert at the Beijing Steinway.” Learn more and see photos here: https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/Mu0rtJ4Mqky4J_piLVrxmQ
WooYoung Yoon (MM ’17) was a 2019 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions Regional Finalist and is a 2018 Merola Opera Program artist. He shared the stage with alumnus SeokJong Baek (BM ’16, MM ’18) on February 13, 2019 for the opening recital of the San Francisco Opera Center and Merola Opera Program’s Schwabacher Recital Series. WooYoung Yoon brought down the house with the show-stopping “Ah! Mes amis” from La Fille du Regiment at last summer’s Merola Grand Finale. He made his debut in Italy as Don Jose in Carmen with the Trentino Music Festival and sang Rodolfo in La Boheme with New Jersey State Opera.
Tian Zhao (BM ’16, MM ’18) won a section violin position in the Singapore Symphony Orchestra.
Yi Zhong (MM ’19), winner of the 2016 Los Angeles Liszt International Piano Competition, will perform for the NY chapter of the American Liszt Society on Wednesday, January 8, 2020 at the Yamaha Piano Salon in New York City.
Dante Zuccaro (MM ’13) became a member of the Guild of Italian American Actors (GIAA).
We honor the memory of alumni, former faculty, and staff members who have passed away in 2018 and 2019:
Richard Joseph Amses (MM ’58)
June 7, 1930 – December 15, 2018
Richard Amses was born in Bayonne, New Jersey, served in the U.S. Army, and was a veteran of the Korean War. He attended The Juilliard School and received a Master of Music from Manhattan School of Music. Richard played the trumpet, flute, and piano, although he was best known for his distinctive style of trumpet playing. He had been a member of local 802 since 1954. In addition, he was a songwriter, lyricist, composer, arranger and joined The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) in 1966. Mr. Amses toured with many of the top big bands of the 50s and 60s including those of Walter Nye, Doc Severinsen, Skitch Henderson, Lester Lanin, Eliot Lawrence. In New York City he often played at the popular nightclubs of the day such as the Latin Quarter, the Copa, and the Palladium. In 1961 he moved with his family to Monmouth County where he taught music both privately and in the New Jersey Public School system for over 25 years. There he became a member of the musicians’ union in Asbury Park, local 399. While teaching he continued to play trumpet professionally for prominent artists as Tony Bennett, Tony Watson, Harry Belafonte, Peggy Lee, Rosemary Clooney, Cab Calloway, Helen O’Connell, and Johnnie Mathis. Richard’s kindness, warmth, and energy were deeply inspiring to all who knew him.
Luis Biava (PD ’63, Conducting)
February 11, 1934 – March 25, 2019
Luis O. Biava was a violinist, a conductor, a teacher and a loving father and husband. His legacy will live on in his recordings and the performances of thousands of students that he taught all over the world. After Luis attended MSM and the Accademia di Santa Cecilia in Rome, he joined the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington D.C. He served as principal second violinist in the Philadelphia Orchestra and made his conducting debut with the orchestra in 1990. Luis then served as acting assistant conductor and was conductor-in-residence from 1994 to 2004. He also became artistic director and conductor of the Temple University Symphony Orchestra and music director of Temple Music Preparatory Division’s Youth Chamber Orchestra. ‘“He had a remarkable ability to bring out the best in everyone, musically and otherwise,” said Temple emeritus faculty member Richard C. Brodhead. “He really became a revered and beloved figure in the college.”’ ‘As a violinist, Mr. Biava’s “contributions and leadership were substantial,” said retired orchestra violinist Larry Grika. “Luis’ beautiful singing sound always was illuminated with enthusiasm and fervor.”’ Read more about Luis here.
Hugh G. Burritt (BM ’58, Trumpet, BM ’58, Music Education)
January 08, 1934 – October 17, 2018
Hugh’s music talent led him to Manhattan School of Music and Juilliard. After his army band days, his career included gigs with Tony Bennett, Nat King Cole, John Cash and many other celebrities. Hugh taught band to hundreds of children in the Oswego City Schools. He then joined the SUNY Oswego music department where he formed the Solid State Jazz Band. He retired as department chair. A proud father, Hugh enjoyed coaching his sons at baseball and hockey, and loved following their respective careers. After retirement, he continued to play in the city band and several other bands in Oswego and South Florida. Hugh enjoyed traveling, golfing and was an avid Yankee and NASCAR fan. Hugh was inducted in the Oswego Music Hall of Fame in 2017.
Audrey Dean-Wright (BM ’78, Voice; MM ’83, Music Education)
September 12, 1949 – September 23, 2018
Audrey served as the founding director of the Adventist Meistersingers, co-founder of the National Children’s Choir and a professor at the University of The Bahamas where she started the University’s Concert Choir in 1998. Audrey also served as music adjudicator for the E. Clement Bethel National Arts Festival for over 25 years. A world-class master musician, she has led her choir’s performances in Cuba, Jamaica, Barbados, Poland, Russia and Prague, and at Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall. Audrey composed over 250 original compositions; they encompassed a broad spectrum of music, including Bahamian Folk Songs, Spirituals, standard choral music, and works for piano and flute. Her music has been performed frequently in the Bahamas and in the United States, and her music and poetry have led to performances in Prague and London as well as in Poland, Ghana, Surinam, Haiti, and Jamaica. The first non-American to be a featured composer with the Southeast African American Collegiate Music Festival, she has been recognized with numerous medals and awards for outstanding music achievement. In 2005 she was bestowed the title ‘Composer Extraordinaire’ at South Carolina State University. In 2006 she was chosen “Woman of the Year” by the American Biographical Institute and has also been listed twice in the International Who’s Who of Professional and Business Women. In 2008 she was chosen as one of the “25 Most Outstanding Women in The Bahamas” in recognition of her contributions to the arts in that country and was also given a “Living Legend Award” that same year. In 2014 she received the Lifetime Achievement Award for the Southeast African American Collegiate Music Festival. For her life’s work, in 2015 she was awarded “Woman of Distinction” by the Celebrating Women International Organization. “Pianist, composer, singer, choral conductor and poet, Audrey Dean-Wright has been an integral part of the music and cultural tapestry of The Bahamas for over 47 years. Her ‘footprints’ in music education and by extension the music industry are clear and bold for all to see. There is no doubt that her rich legacy will live on through her works and students.” Read more about Audrey here.
Paul Henle (’81, Percussion)
November 30, 1949 – October 7, 2018
Paul Jacobson Henle graduated from the University of Rochester in 1971 and later received a Master’s degree in Computer Science from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Paul’s love of New Hampshire began in childhood with happy summer vacations. His early career included logging in the New Hampshire woods, working on a dairy farm, and theatre production at the Barnstormers in Tamworth. He went on to become a lead programmer with Primavera Systems, a trusted realtor, and ultimately retired as a community organizer from the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund in Concord. Paul excelled at making music. He played percussion for many years in the Lakes Region with the Irish band, Odd Men Out. He also played with the New Hampshire Music Festival and the Scottish band Tullochgorum and was the percussionist for several recordings of New England musicians. Paul’s own CD is The Golden Keyboard: Celtic Marimba. Most recently, his String Quartet #1 in A Major was premiered on March 18, 2018, by members of the Holyoke Civic Symphony at a chamber music concert. Paul will be remembered always for his gentle kindness, bright intellect, good humor, and wit. Read more about Paul here.
Katherine Hoover (MM ’74, Music Theory)
December 2, 1937 – September 21, 2018
Katherine, composer, flutist, and poet, is the recipient of a National Endowment Composers Fellowship and many other awards and commissions, including the prestigious Academy of Arts and Letters 1994 Academy Composition Award, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Flute Association. Her works for orchestra, chamber groups, and soloists have been widely recorded and published by Theodore Presser and Papagena Press. Her Kokopelli for Solo Flute has sold over 13,000 copies and has been performed world-wide. There have been over 60 performances of her orchestral pieces by groups including the Long Beach (CA), Harrisburg, Fort Worth, and Santa Fe Symphonies. Chamber groups including the Colorado Quartet, the Eroica Trio, the New Jersey Chamber Music Society, the Dorian and Sylvan Quintets, and the Amherst Saxophone Quartet; cellist Sharon Robinson, pianists Christopher Taylor, Anne-Marie McDermott, Joseph Kalichstein, and Mirian Conti; flutists Julius Baker, Carol Wincenc, Eugenia Zukerman, and jazz clarinet virtuoso Eddie Daniels have all featured her work. In the January 1997 issue of Classical Pulse, Critic Leslie Gerber picked Hoover’s Quintet Da Pacem (Koch) as one of the five best recordings of 1996. In March of 2013, the New York Flute Club sponsored a celebration concert of her work. Ms. Hoover’s book of poems, “This Way About” was published in 2015 by I Universe as an Editor’s Choice book. Having graduated from the Eastman School of Music and Manhattan School of Music, she went on to give concerto performances at Lincoln center and has performed with ballet and opera companies in New York’s major Halls. She has played numerous recitals, both live and on radio and television, and recorded solo and chamber repertoire for Arabesque, Leonarda, CRI, Grenadilla, and Opus One. She has taught Flute in the Juilliard Preparatory Department, and Music theory at the Manhattan School of Music. In 2015, with the encouragement of friends and family members, she published a book of her poems, This Way About. One poem in the collection is called “Music, My Love.” It concludes, “Music, my love, you have taken my hand in sorrow and led me from darkness. You have taught me grace and forgiveness. Music, my love, you whisper to me of paradise.”
Jack Jennings (BM ’57, MM ’58, percussion)
1928 – April 5, 2019
Jack Jennings was born in Youngstown, Ohio and later moved to Brooklyn, NY and attended the Manhattan School of Music for his Bachelor and Master of Music degrees in percussion performance. Jack had a very successful and varied career as a percussionist. He worked as a studio-recording percussionist in New York City and Los Angeles, appearing on a range of TV shows, movie soundtracks, and commercial jingles. Jennings performed with many famous musicians throughout his career including Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Barbra Streisand, Johnny Mathis, and many more. Additionally, he toured the U.S. and Canada with Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis, Jr. and played for many years in the Broadway musical Cats. Jack later settled in Norwood, New Jersey and was a longtime member of the Immaculate Conception Church and St. Anthony’s Church, serving as co-choir director of the adult and youth choirs with his wife, Jayne. His family was the greatest joy of his life and he and his wife celebrated a marriage of 58 years and five children. Read more about Jack here.
Ada Kopetz Korf (Former MSM Faculty)
April 27, 1919 – January 13, 2020
Ada Kopetz Korf was an international concert artist who performed as a soloist, accompanist and in chamber music concerts. Giving performances, master classes and as a respected adjudicator took Ada to Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and throughout North America. She was a faculty member of Manhattan School of Music and Columbia University and held B.S. and M.A. degrees from Teachers College. She was a fellowship graduate of The Julliard School, where she taught piano. Ms. Kopetz Korf played for Albert Spalding, Michel Piastro, Louis Persinger, Ruggiero Ricci, and was a winner of the Martha Baird Rockefeller Grant for Performing and Teaching. She was the official pianist with the Symphony of the Air under Stowkowski, Villa- Lobos, Metropolis, Pelletier, Halasz and Wallenstein. She appeared regularly as the soloist for Radio City Music Hall. As a member of the Philharmonic Piano Quartet, under Columbia Artists Management, she toured throughout the United States and Canada, recorded for Columbia Records and made many TV, radio and symphonic appearances. Ms. Kopetz Korf resided in New York City teaching privately and serving passionately on the Board of Directors of both the Musicians Club of New York and The Bohemians, championing individual artists and especially educating young children. In addition to classical performers, she taught many well-known jazz artists, which brought her great joy. On May 5, 2019, she was named the first Honorary Life Member of the Musicians Club of New York at the age of 100. More about Ada here.
Michael “Blair” Lawhead (BM ’89, Violin)
October 31, 1962 – March 14, 2018
Michael was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, grew up in Austin, Minnesota, and graduated from Austin High School, where he was one of the first recipients of the Austin Music Hall of Fame Award. He went on to attend Indiana University School of Music in Bloomington, Indiana, where he studied with Joseph Gingold and received a scholarship to the Manhattan School of Music, where he earned a bachelor of music degree. He taught at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. Blair toured with the Andy Williams and Perry Como orchestras as a professional violinist. While on tour, he aptly cut both performers’ hair. In 1989, Blair moved to New York City with a violin, scissors and a dream. Upon graduation from the Manhattan School of Music, he began playing with the orchestras of many Broadway musicals, which include Annie, Carousel, The Red Shoes, Secret Garden, The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber, and Ragtime. He founded and developed the Chelsea New York Symphony and played in that orchestra for seven years. He also started a hair replacement business, “Blair Hair,” and enjoyed many years of satisfied customers. “He appreciated and collected art. He was also very fond of his golden retrievers, Gus, Liza, Max and Puck. Blair was an extrovert who loved talking to people. He had a lot of friends who loved him dearly.”
Spiro Malas (MSM Voice Faculty)
January 28, 1933— June 23, 2019
The MSM Community lost one of its own – a remarkable artist and wonderful human being — in longtime Voice faculty member Spiro Malas. Spiro joined the Voice faculty in 1988 and leaves a legacy, having taught three decades of MSM students, developing both their musical and artistic talents as well as moving them towards a deeper understanding of themselves and their potential. Spiro also gave of himself as an artist during his years at MSM; he was a guest artist with the MSM Opera Theater, singing the role of Falstaff in MSM’s production of Nicolai’s The Merry Wives of Windsor. Among his many other accomplishments as a performer (Met Opera, Covent Garden, Chicago Lyric, New York City Opera), in 1992, Spiro won accolades and a Drama Desk Award nomination for his Broadway portrayal of Tony Esposito, the title character in The Most Happy Fella. Reviewing the revival for The New York Times, Frank Rich wrote that, “As acted by Mr. Malas, Tony’s inner growth and redemption become the very soul of musical drama, especially as delineated in one gorgeous Loesser song after another.” The italics are MSMs, and they help communicate what was so special about Spiro as both performer and teacher. He felt the presence of that “soul” and allowed others – audience members and students alike – to feel it for themselves. We extend our heartfelt condolences to Spiro’s loving wife, Marlena Malas, herself a member of MSM’s Voice faculty (since 1982), and to his immediate and extended family. We know that Spiro’s long, rich, accomplished life and the many wonderful memories it inspires will be a source of comfort and joy in the days and years ahead. Click here to read a tribute to this wonderful artist from Opera News.
Hugh Masekela (’64, Trumpet)
April 4, 1939 – January 23, 2018
Hugh was a renowned South African trumpeter, singer and activist. His music became symbolic of his country’s anti-apartheid movement, even though he lived three decades in exile. He recorded more than 40 solo albums and collaborated with artists ranging from Harry Belafonte to Paul Simon. Mr. Masekela came to the forefront of his country’s music scene in the 1950s, when he became a pioneer of South African jazz as a member of the Jazz Epistles. By 1956, Mr. Masekela was performing in dance bands around Johannesburg and in cities across the country. In 1959, he played in the pit band of the hit musical King Kong, with music composed by the seminal South African pianist Todd Matshikiza. In 1960, Hugh moved briefly to London to study at the Guildhall School of Music, before attending Manhattan School of Music where he studied classical trumpet for four years. Mr. Masekela and Stewart Levine, a fellow student at the Manhattan School, established the independent label Chisa, named for the Zulu word for “burn.” The two would remain lifelong collaborators and friends. The label struck gold in 1968 when Mr. Masekela released the album The Promise of a Future, featuring “Grazing in the Grass,” which hit No. 1 on the Billboard charts. In the 1970s, Mr. Masekela toured sub-Sarahan Africa and began a partnership with the Nigerian musician Fela Kuti, who had recently pioneered the genre known as Afrobeat. He also worked with the exiled South African saxophonist Dudu Pukwana and began fronting the Ghanaian group Hedzoleh Soundz. He recorded two albums with the group, Introducing Hedzoleh Soundz and I Am Not Afraid, and toured the United States with them in 1974. In 1980, Mr. Masekela returned to Africa. He settled in Botswana, where he set up a mobile recording studio and recorded two albums. In 1987, he traveled to London to record the album Tomorrow, which included “Mandela (Bring Him Back Home).” In 1986, Mr. Masekela founded the Botswana International School of Music, a nonprofit organization aimed at educating young African musicians. The following year, he played with Paul Simon and Ladysmith Black Mambazo on the “Graceland” tour. Mr. Masekela moved back to South Africa in 1990, the year Mandela was released from prison. He continued to record and tour around the world into his mid-70s. In 2010, Mr. Masekela was awarded the Order of Ikhamanga in gold, South Africa’s highest medal of honor. MSM is proud to have him among our prestigious alumni. He will be missed by many.
Donald “Donal” Nold (MSM Faculty)
August 11, 1928 – August 17, 2019
Donald, known as Donal to many, was a world-renowned pianist, vocal coach, and educator. He began playing piano at a young age, and went on to earn a Master of Science at The Juilliard School. Donald’s international career commenced with his European solo debut at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. He toured the world with highly acclaimed singers and instrumentalists, including Martina Arroyo, Grace Bumbry, Maureen Forrester, Graziella Sciutti, Justino Diaz, Michael Rabin, Tossy Spivakovsky, and Gloria Davy.
After living in Europe for a decade, Donald returned to the US to serve on the music faculties of various schools, including Juilliard, his alma mater. From 1964-1994 he was on faculty at the school where he would play the most formative role, not only in the lives of his students, but in the history of the school itself; Manhattan School of Music. “I was one of Donal’s students, and I can confidently say he was the best teacher I ever had, at MSM and elsewhere,” said June Marano-Murray, an MSM alumna. For thirty years Donald was a member of the MSM faculty in the Opera, Vocal Literature, Music History, Ensemble, and Accompanying Departments. Perhaps his biggest accomplishment at the School came in 1970, when he contributed to the foundation of the Accompanying Department, which he chaired from 1980 until his retirement in 1994.
Robert M. Petta (BM ’74, Percussion)
June 6, 1949 – March 22, 2018
After graduating, Robert became the Principal Percussionist of The Florida Symphony/Orlando Philharmonic, a position he held for thirty-seven years. With The Orlando Philharmonic he made several recordings for Madacy Records. He was also a member of The Brevard Symphony and frequently performed with the orchestras of Naples, Jacksonville, Tampa and Sarasota. He was the Principal Percussionist for The Orlando Opera, Opera Tampa, The Palm Beach Opera, The Southern Ballet Theater and tours with the Ballet Companies of New York City, Houston, Hartford and Pittsburgh. He also performed on tour with The Royal Opera Orchestra of Covent Garden. In addition, Robert performed for many years in The Fife and Drum Corps at Walt Disney World and was on the faculty of The University of Central Florida. In 2012 Robert moved back to Syracuse to pursue semi-retirement. Since returning, he performed with The Binghamton Philharmonic, The Catskill Symphony, The Northeastern Pennsylvania Philharmonic, Symphoria of Syracuse and The Coachmen.
Allegra Themmen-Pigott (BM ’97)
October 26, 1967 – May 4, 2019
Allegra was immersed in music from her birth. She was named after the musical term for “lively” by her parents, who were professional musicians. Following her graduation from Ridgefield High School in CT, she pursued a performance degree in classical voice as a coloratura soprano and began a life-long passion of organizing and performed in concerts for a range of charities and events. After Alzheimer’s Disease struck her mother, Allegra became interested in the healing power of music. She attended Leslie College in Cambridge, MA; earned a Masters in Expressive Therapies; and became a Board Certified Music Therapist. Allegra worked in several clinics in the New York City area, ran her own private practice, and earned certifications as a Diplomat Psychotherapist and a Certified Reiki Practitioner. Allegra also served as a Board member at the American Music Therapy Associated for the New England Region, and was a member of the adjunct faculty at the New School in New York City. Allegra is also the author of Life in the Key of Allegra: A Personal and Professional Journey with the Healing Powers of Music, an extraordinary memoir that spans the decades of her growth as a young girl to a mental health professional. More about Allegra here.
Stephen Timothy Stalker (BM ’66, MM ’70, Cello)
May 18, 1943 – September 6, 2019
Stephen Stalker was passionate about music performance and education throughout his life. He taught at the Interlochen Center for the Arts then was principal cellist of the Oklahoma Symphony before moving to Binghamton in the mid-1970’s to join the string quartet residency program at Harper College. Over the years he taught at Binghamton University, Colgate University, Mansfield University, Ithaca College, Binghamton City Schools, and Broome Community College. He also maintained an active private teaching studio with students of all ages. He performed regularly with symphony orchestras and ensembles throughout the region, including the Prometheus Ensemble, the Finger Lakes Chamber Ensemble, and the Catskill Chamber Players. He was an officer and a founder of the Binghamton Cello Festival and the Southern Tier Music Teachers Association. Stephen also served as Strings Chair for the New York State School Music Association and as President of the New York State Chapter of the American String Teachers Association. In addition to his passion for teaching and performing, Steve loved to travel. He enjoyed experiencing and learning about new foods, artwork, and cultures, and loved spending time with his family and grandchildren. More about Stephen here.
Jonathan Sternberg (’46, Viola)
July 27, 1919 – May 8, 2018
Jonathan began his professional career conducting the National Youth Administration Orchestra of New York in Copland’s An Outdoor Overture, before entering military service. At the end of the war he took over the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra. Jonathan Sternberg made his conducting debut with the Vienna Symphony Orchesta in 1947. Then he toured extensively as a guest conductor in Europe, North America, and the Far East. After a year at the helm of the Halifax Symphony Orchestra, Jonathan Sternberg was Music Director and the Principal Conductor of the Royal Flemish Opera in Antwerp, Belgium. In 1966 he returned to the U.S. to accept an appointment as the Musical Director and Principal Conductor of the Harkeness Ballet York. Concurrently he was Musical Consultant to the Rebekah Harkness Foundation for their Ballet Commissioning program. Some years later he was appointed Musical Director and conductor of the Atlanta Municipal. After Atlanta, Jonathan Sternberg divided his professional time with the academic world. He took up a visiting professorship of conducting at the Eastman School of Music and later took a position at Temple University, where he taught and conducted for 20 years. In 2004 he was appointed as Musical and Artistic Director of the Bach Festival of Philadelphia. Among the artists with whom he has collaborated in concert and opera, are Isaac Stern, Yehudi Menuhin, Henryk Szeryng, Paul Badura-Skoda, Alfred Brendel, Annie Fischer, Philippe Entremont, Byron Janis, Teresa Stich-Randall, Lisa Della Casa, Hilde Gueden, George London and Paul Schoeffler. (Information acquired from Bach-Cantatas.com)
Sanford Sylvan (BM ’76, Voice)
1953 – January 29, 2019
The beloved American baritone Sanford Sylvan performed with the world’s leading orchestras under such conductors as Pierre Boulez, Herbert Blohmstedt, Christoph von Dohnanyi, Christopher Hogwood, James Levine, Roger Norrington, Simon Rattle, and Esa-Pekka Salonen. In opera, Sanford worked with directors Peter Sellars, Robert Wilson, Sir Peter Hall, John Copley, Tim Alberry, and many others at companies including Glyndebourne, New York City Opera, San Francisco Opera, and at the La Monnaie theater in Brussels. His portrayals of Figaro in Le nozze di Figaro and Alfonso in Così fan tutte had been seen on PBS’s Great Performances and are recorded on DVD for Decca. Sanford recorded the title role in John Adams’s The Death of Klinghoffer, also on Decca. He sang the role of Chou-En Lai for the premiere of Adams’s Nixon in China which received a Grammy and an Emmy. With pianist David Breitman, Sanford had performed numerous recitals worldwide. Two of their three recordings on the Nonesuch label received best classical vocal performance Grammy nominations. In 2011, he was nominated again in the same category for his performance of Wilde: A Symphony by Charles Fussell. Sanford was on the voice faculty at The Juilliard School and Bard Conservatory and had previously been on the faculty of McGill University in Montreal. Read more on Juilliard’s in memoriam page here. ‘”Not only was he a professional singer,” said Sylvan’s sister Gwen, “as a teacher of voice, he allowed his students to emerge, to really find their own voices. I look at his life as such a full, total life. It’s extraordinary in terms of his gift as singer – his voice was absolutely healing. But his teaching, in the latter part of his lifetime — he was so devoted to his students, and they were to him.”‘ – from NPR’s Sanford Sylvan, A Baritone On His Own Terms, Dies At 65
Maestro Hugo Vianello (BM ’50, MM ’51, viola)
January 16, 1929 – March 30, 2018
Hugo joined the Army Air Corps (precursor to the Air Force) in 1944 and was stationed in the Philippines, Arizona, and the Mariana Islands. Hugo was an airplane Radio Operator/Mechanic and also qualified as a Carbine Sharpshooter. He was honorably discharged on May 14, 1946, as a Corporal. After service, he enrolled at the Manhattan School of Music, earning his Bachelor and Master of Music. Hugo performed with the Knickerbocker Chamber Players, the Bell Telephone Hour Orchestra and the Radio City Music Hall Symphony. Before becoming a conductor, he also played viola in the Minneapolis Symphony and the New York Philharmonic, and was Principal Violist of the Oklahoma City Symphony. He toured extensively throughout the U.S., and also in Greece, Lebanon, Iran, Iraq, India, Pakistan, Turkey, Yugoslavia and Canada. He made his conducting debut was with the Oklahoma City Symphony. He subsequently accepted an appointment as Assistant Conductor of the Kansas City Philharmonic. During his tenure there, he founded the Kansas City Civic Orchestra. Honored with the American Symphony League Conductor Recognition Award, he was selected to participate in conducting projects with the Baltimore and Cincinnati symphonies. Hugo left Kansas City for an appointment as Music Director of the Lansing Symphony in Michigan. Concurrently, he accepted the prestigious position of Director of Orchestral Activities at Northwestern University. While there, he conducted National Education Television (NET) opera productions. The family moved to Columbia in 1968, when Hugo became Director of Orchestral Activities at Stephens College. In 1970, he founded the Missouri Symphony Society. Hugo served as Artistic Director and Conductor for 28 years, until his retirement, when he was named Conductor Laureate. For thirteen seasons, he concurrently held the post of Associate Conductor of the Kansas City Symphony. Hugo conducted orchestras around the country and the Orquestra Sinfonica Estados Mexico in Mexico City. Hugo was also a composer. His Christmas Kaleidoscope was performed by numerous orchestras throughout the country. In Dec. 2017, Hugo saw the world premiere of his operetta, An Antique Carol, at Talking Horse Productions. In 2006, the Missouri Arts Council honored Hugo with a Lifetime Achievement Award. He and his wife, Lucy Marino, celebrated 67 years of marriage and had four children.
Lawrence Elliott “Larry” Willis (’64, Voice)
December 20, 1942 – September 29, 2019
Born in Harlem, New York into a music-loving family, Larry Willis spent his childhood aspiring to be a classical vocalist. During his final year at Music and Arts High School, Willis found himself interested in formally learning the piano. Later studying music theory at Manhattan School of Music with a growing passion for jazz, Willis was introduced to alto saxophonist Jackie McLean who, in 1962, invited him to join his band. From then on, Willis never went back to classical performance. Along the way, Larry Willis worked with Dizzy Gillespie, Lee Morgan, Clifford Jordan, Art Taylor, Art Blakey, Carmen McRae, and Shirley Horn. Willis, a Grammy-nominated jazz pianist, composer, and member of the jazz-rock band Blood, Sweat & Tears, created and released numerous albums spanning across multiple styles of music. He taught at the New School in New York and later at Florida Southern College. In the 90’s Willis settled in Washington D.C. as the music director of Mapleshade Records, working with drummer Paul Murphey recording five albums and, ultimately, developing a unique variety of avant-garde jazz. In September, Willis made his final recording with saxophonist Joe Ford, trumpeter Jeremy Pelt, bassist Blake Meister, and drummer Victor Lewis. The recording’s release is forthcoming. More about Larry here.
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