Featured profiles of the students, alumni, faculty, staff, and friends who make up VCU Music. Sign up for our mailing list to get the latest department news and information on upcoming events from VCU Music.
By now you’ve probably heard of VCU Men’s Basketballs’ electrifying and fast-paced defensive style known as HAVOC. If so, then you’ve certainly heard the Peppas, VCU’s resident Athletic and Pep Band, known for its unapologetically intense musical antics during the games. Headed by director Ryan Kopasci, the Peppas are every bit a part of the action as the players on the court.
Jon Murphy, VCU Music student and newly appointed Assistant Director of the band, finds this to be their crowing achievement.
“We like to think of ourselves as ‘The Sixth Man,’” he stated. “We cheer loud. All of the time.”
Their presence has not gone unnoticed. A recent video of the band’s performance of Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball” during a home game against George Mason University has quickly gone viral. According to reports, the free-throw distraction attempt proved successful, as GMU only shot at 56 percent accuracy.
During this January’s celebrations of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and National Mentoring Month, it is only natural to reflect on “service.” VCU Music works to serve the Richmond community and beyond.
Last month, the Department held its 27th Holiday Gala, an annual fundraising concert for Richmond’s Hospital Hospitality House. VCU Music faculty, staff, alumni, and community supporters lent their talents to present an event full of holiday cheer. The concert raised nearly $4,200 for the organization whose goal is to provide lodging and non-medical services to families and individuals in medical crisis.
In addition to our many entertainment events featuring guest artists, faculty, and students spanning classical to jazz music, the Department sponsors a number of educational events that not only engage students at VCU, but those throughout the Richmond community and beyond. From Greater Richmond Bands to Jazz Day and the many instrument-specific festivals, summer camps, and master classes the Department Presents, VCU Music helps aspiring musicians develop their craft. Click to read more on how the Department is serving (and being acknowledged for its service)in this month’s Kudos. Read more »
Not many musicians can say that they’ve performed the national anthem for the President of the United States. Nor can many musicians say that their composer brother-in-law invited them to sing on an original opera. In addition to her work as an educator, Soprano Edwards-Burrs is an accomplished performer. In articles and reviews, her voice has been praised for its “crystalline beauty,” regularly performing classical and sacred music, as well as her hallmark — opera.
Dr. Edwards-Burrs received a Bachelor of Music (B.M.) in Vocal Performance and a Master of Music (M.M.) in Vocal Performance from Virginia Commonwealth University. She earned her Doctorate of Music Arts (D.M.A.) in Vocal Performance from The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. When asked about the experience of getting her doctorate, she relayed her experience of commuting from Richmond to D.C. several times a week for classes. Read more »
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.