This series features the quick-hit successes of VCU Music students, alumni, and faculty and staff. Sign up for our mailing list to get the latest department news and information on upcoming events from VCU Music.
As the VCU campus comes back to life with students returning, many of them will ask each other, “What did you do over the summer?” Some will talk about summer school, beach trips or boring summer jobs. For Anna Moore, there’s an inspirational story to tell.
Moore, a junior majoring in music education, spent the month of June in the remote village of Asiafo Amanfro in eastern Ghana. As a volunteer with the Akaa Project, she taught music to over 100 students at the Asiafo Amanfro Community School.
The Akaa Project is a nonprofit that focuses on community development in eastern Ghana by promoting improved education and healthcare. Moore originally connected with the nonprofit’s founder, Lauren Grimanis, on a VCU study abroad trip to Ghana in the summer of 2012 to study tribal drumming, the African xylophone (gyil), dance and storytelling.
Since Moore had visited Ghana before, she had an idea what to expect.
“There is no running water, no electricity, and really poor cell service,” Moore said. “We collected rainwater for bathing, drank from water satchels, and used battery and solar-powered ‘torches’ after sunset.”
In addition to commuting from Northern Virginia to work with students at VCU, William Messerschmidt, Instructor of Percussion, continues a full schedule of performances. Recently, he has performed with several groups, including with Cathedral Brass for the opening of the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University, at George Washington’s Mount Vernon, with the Lynchburg Symphony Orchestra on a program including Grieg and Stravinsky, and at Immanuel Evangelical-Lutheran Church in Alexandria, Virginia.
Associate Professor of Trumpet, Rex Richardson, co-authored the Yamaha Etude and Exercise Book for Trumpet (The Secrets of Eight Master Artists and Teachers), a collection of practice philosophies, tips, and tricks designed to provide a fresh look on solo trumpet playing. The book is now available on Amazon.
Alvester Garnett (BA ‘93), recently performed for the President and First Lady at the White House as part of the Jazz at Lincoln Center All Stars in After Midnight, a Broadway musical that serves partly as a tribute to Duke Ellington and transcends the history Harlem’s Golden Age of jazz and reinvents it. Garnett is part of a handpicked 17-piece orchestra. The show boasts Grammy and Tony award winning artists and is already being considered the “most explosive new musical on Broadway” (The Examiner). After Midnight officially opens on Broadway on November 3rd.
Keyara Fleece (BM ’13) was awarded a Graduate Assistantship at Old Dominion University and is pursuing her Master’s degree there.
Wallis Williams-Vore (BM ’00) recently received her Doctorate of Musical Arts in Clarinet Performance at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.
Sophomore piano student, Lanjiabao Ge received second prize at the Music Teachers National Association Virginia Young Artists Competition at James Madison University in October.
The VCU Music Teachers National Association Collegiate Chapter, established this fall by Piano Area Coordinator Dr. Yin Zheng and current piano student (’14) Savannah Hatcher, has began to schedule and sponsor several local events including a Richmond Music Teachers Association (RMTA) mixer, professional lectures on funding and social media, as well as two observable sample lessons and discussions by RMTA members. The VCU Chapter will also be hosting Rock4Life, a Richmond based rock inspired orchestra and choir concert whose profits will be donated to music programs in the Greater Richmond Area, in Spring 2014.
Piano student and President of the VCU MTNA Collegiate Chapter Savannah Hatcher received a $2,000 scholarship from the Richmond Music Teachers Association chapter for her success in establishing the organization.
For many, the thought of packing up every possession you can think of, including your family and flying 6000-plus miles away would be a daunting task. That is not quite the case for Dr. Terry Austin.
Suspicion had not yet set in when Austin received an email from a friend that mysteriously said, “Send me your current resume and a picture. Don’t ask me why.”
Initially, he “thought it was [for] something completely different.”
Alice Hammel recently presented a series of lectures to both general education and music education students at Midwestern State University on the topic of teaching music to students with special needs. Her book Teaching Music to Students with Autism was recently published. The book provides a comprehensive study of the education of students with autism within the music classroom. The book is focuses on the diagnosis of autism, advocating for students and music programs, and creating and maintaining a team approach when working with colleagues. A significant portion of the book is focused on understanding the communication, cognition, behavior, sensory, and socialization challenges inherent in working with students with autism.
Ensemble Appassionata (Daniel Myssyk, founder and artistic director) was Czech Serenades nominated for ADISQ’s best recording of the year for the album Czech Serenades. According to Orchestras Canada, “the nominees are a veritable who’s-who of the province’s lively music scene.
Dr. Patrick Smith served as an Artist in Residence at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm, Sweden, September 16-20, 2013. During his residency, Dr. Smith taught lessons to the undergraduate and graduate horn students, presented a lecture and master class, along with a recital featuring music by Michael Kallstrom, Franz Strauss, Johannes Brahms, Paul Basler, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and the world premier of James Naigus’ “Landscapes” for three horns and piano. Dr. Smith was assisted by his wife and fellow horn player, Kristin Marland Smith, Annamia Larsson (professor of horn – Royal Academy of Music, 1st horn Gavle Philharmonic) and pianist Tomoko Kanamaru.
In July, Dr. Yin Zheng recorded the complete Sonatas for Piano and Violin by Wolfgang A. Mozart with violinist Bin Huang, Gold Medalist of the prestigious Paganini and Munich ARD International Violin Competitions. The recording, sponsored by the International Mozart Foundation and projected to release in Spring 2014, will include four audio CDs and a video of selected sonatas, as well as a documentary film of their research at the Bibliotheca Mozartiana, visit to the autograph vault, and their performances on Mozart’s own instruments. Dr. Zheng performed in August as part of the experimental opera “Songs of Fishermen” written for Tenor, Dancer, Piano, Percussion and String Quartet. The opera was recorded under Albany Records in 2012, and was premiered in Amsterdam during the Grachten Festival.
Nathaniel Lee, trombone (B.M. 2010) won the position as principal trombonist of the Charlottesville Symphony Orchestra and trombone professor at the University of Virginia. Since graduation from VCU, Nathaniel attended the New England Conservatory for the Master of Music degree. He has completed one year of the Doctor of Musical Arts degree at the University of Iowa.
For some, internships were a dreaded experience. Part of this anxiety probably stemmed from media representations of interns doing nothing but fetching lunch orders or filing decades-old dusty papers. Interns are often afraid that after weeks or months, they will have nothing to list on their resumes except “coffee order expert” or “copy machine troubleshooter.” But for some, internships are life-changing experiences. Internships can open up a wealth of information into the fields that have only been studied in the context of a classroom. Internships can provide an avenue of skills and provide a way for students to imagine their future.
This fall, Antonio Garcia will be teaching a course entitled “Jazz Journeys” through VCU’s Commonwealth Society, which offers non-credit classes to those in the community. He will also be presenting at the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement “National Engage Conference” in the United Kingdom in November on the subject of jazz, civil rights, and community engagement as a means to greater understanding. His co-authored article “VCU Jazz Students, Faculty Members Connect with South African Counterparts from UKZN” appears in Downbeat Magazine‘s October issue.
William Messerschmidt performed in Washington, DC with The Capital Band at the conventions of the Headhunters and The American Hospital Association. He also gave the premier performance of an original snare drum solo at the annual convention of The United States Association of Rudimental Drummers in PA, which is scheduled to be published by Honey Rock Music.
Rex Richardson was an artist-in-residence at Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, England, a featured headline artist at the Italian Brass Week Festival in Cesena and Bertinoro, Italy, a featured headline artist at the International Belgian Brass Academy. He also performed as guest soloist with the Chicago Brass Band at the World Music Championships in the Netherlands.
Kenneth Wood traveled to England over the summer to pursue his research of Victorian art song.
Darryl Harper‘s newest album, The Edenfred Files, has recently been released on Hipnotic Records. The album features Matthew Parrish on bass, Harry “Butch” Reed on drums, and pianist Kevin Harris. Harper has also been recording some original work and several commissions by Helen Sung, Freddie Bryant, Gregory Bullen, Xavier Davis, and Ayn Inserto this summer. The album was reviewed by NPR’s Fresh Air .
Members of No BS Brass Band were profiled in Style Weekly and in Virginia Living.
Stuart Jackson recently performed at the Haven in Charlottesville. The concert featured (among other instrumentation) prepared piano, hardanger fiddle, and musical robots.
Kimberly Fox Knight recently released her first album Second Chances.
Katelyn McCarter, an artist of “Dreamin’ Out Loud Entertainment” was nominated for the categories of Christian Female Vocalist of the Year and Christian Female Entertainer of the Year by the International Music and Entertainment Association.
Jacob Mertz was featured as a soloist with the Central Virginia Wind Symphony at Stony Point Fashion Park.
Wallis Williams Vore, clarinet, finished her Doctor of Musical Arts degree at the University of Cincinnati, Conservatory of Music this year.
John Mlynczak, Chairman of the Creative Arts Assessment Committee in Louisiana, authored Creative Arts Assessment and Common Core: Lessons from Louisiana. As a music educator, John has shared his views on the successes and failures of the system, its implementation, and its impact on music educators.
Jessica Harika, who just recently began her second year at New England Conservatory was cast with a lead role in Britten’s “Turn of the Screw.” This fall, she was also the only graduate student selected to sing in Boston’s Jordan Hall in a production of Mozart’s “La Clemenza di Tito” with a cast of Artist Diploma candidates. In the summer, she served as Director of the High School Opera Scenes program and as Assistant Stage Director of the College Opera program at Brevard Music Festival.
Stephanie Auld was selected to participate in last summer’s Buck Hill Skytop Festival in PA and in this summer’s Atlantic Music Festival. Of the Atlantic Music Festival, she stated, “This has been an incredible experience” after singing in multiple performance, taking lessons, coachings, and masterclasses, and more.
This summer, Gianna Barone was accepted to the prestigious New York Opera Studio operated by Carol and Nico Castel, world-famous in the opera business. She will be attending New England Conservatory with a major scholarship to study voice with the head of the opera program.
This summer, Vanessa Naghdi performed as a soloist in a concert sponsored by the Washington Women’s Chorus at the Mansion at Strathmore. She also was cast as Diane Slawyer in the premiere of the new musical “Endangered,” performed at the Kennedy Center. She is the recipient of the American Prize/Opera Division for University Women, following two other vocal competitions this past season: a prize from The Friday Morning Music Club D.C. and a scholarship prize from The Shirley Rabb Winston Voice Competition. She will be continuing her graduate studies at Arizona State University where she was awarded the largest scholarship of all entering female graduate students.