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VCU Music: Out Loud

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.


VCU faculty | October 2013: Music and autism, Royal College of Music, best of the year, and Mozart master.

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.


VCU alumni | October 2013: Principal trombonist.

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.


September 2013: Colby Mullen, voice

Colby_MullenFor 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.

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VCU faculty | September 2013: a new album, travel abroad, and a grant.

Dr. Tabatha Easley and Dr. Sonia Vlahcevic each presented at the College Music Society International Conference in Buenos Aries. Linda Johnston also volunteered at the CMS.

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.

Rebecca Tyree won a Virginia Commission for the Arts grant over the summer in support of the Vocal Arts Project.

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 .


No BS! Brass

VCU alumni | September 2013: PHDs, prepared piano, and prize scholarships.

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.


VCU/UKZN’s Leap of Faith

VCU Music students | September 2013: Opera singers and jazz scholars.

Zarah Brock was accepted for a second summer season at Maestro Lorin Maazel’s renowned Castleton Festival where she was assigned three opera scenes to study and perform. She also performed in a masterclass, as well as sang in the chorus for two main stage operas.

This summer, Alex Harper was invited by Lyric Opera of Virginia to perform as a Guest Artist with their Children’s Opera Summer Camp. In September, he will perform as a soloist for Lyric Opera’s Richmond “Asti Event.”

Four Virginia Commonwealth University jazz students were named 2013-14 Joseph J. Kennedy Jr. Jazz Scholars by the Richmond Jazz Society. Saxophone student Trey Sorrells, trumpet student Marc Roman, guitar student Roger Pouncey and piano student Macon Mann each will receive a scholarship worth up to $1,000.

The album Leap of Faith, featuring VCU and University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) jazz students, faculty, and special guests is now available for purchase at CDBaby.com.


VCU faculty | May 2013: a recording, conference presentations, national performances, and a university award.

Daniel Myssyk will be adjudicating the final round of the prestigious Canadian Music Competition from June 18 to July 3 in Sherbrooke (Quebec).

Susanna Klein, violin, presented at the American String Teachers’ National Conference in Providence, Rhode Island in March.

Tabatha Easley will present at the College Music Society International Conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina from June 18 to 24. With piano professor Dr. Andres Gomez Bravo, they will present a lecture recital of “Colombian Perspectives: A Global Manifestation in flute and piano music.”

Charles West played a concert and recorded a CD with Elsie Parker, a former student and professional clarinetist in St. Louis, Missouri recently.

On April 6, Peter Martin gave a performance at the “Sounds of New Music Festival” at North Central College in Naperville, Illinois along with his quartet, Third Coast Percussion. They also gave a masterclass to students of NCC the following day.

The group was recently named as the ensemble-in-residence at the University of Notre Dame’s DeBartolo Performing Arts Center. As ensemble-in-residence, Third Coast will perform on the University’s Presenting Series, engage in interdisciplinary collaborations across campus, premiere new works commissioned by Notre Dame, conduct master classes and provide community-building outreach performances for youth in local schools. Read the full press release.

The Awards Committee of Community Engagement selected Antonio Garcia and his project A Jazz bridge to Greater Understanding as the 2013 recipient of the Community Engagement Award for Research. The award recognizes those who participated and supported the VCU-UKZN partnership that supported the creation of new compositions. A recording of the performances will be released in the fall.


Commonwealth Singers in Montreal.

VCU ensembles | May 2013: performances in Montreal and Cartagena, Kappa Kappa Psi nominated for major awards, Percussion Ensemble celebrates Earth Day.

Capitol Brass was  invited by the Fundacion Tocando Puertas (Para Abrir Futuros) to perform on tour in Cartagena, Colombia from May 12-20, 2013.  They performed at the Comfenalco School, Universidad de Bellas Artes, and in a feature collaborative concert “Il Dialogue of Two Cultures,” directed by VCU’s Professor of Low Brass, Dr. Ross Walter.  The VCU students and their professor, along with Dr. Kenneth Wood, Assistant Professor of Voice and Associate Director of the VCU Opera, will be helped young music students to advance their skills on the instruments by teaching, performing, and interacting with them.  This visit to was also made possible by the generous support of  scholarships from Virginia Commonwealth University’s Global Education Office.

Virginia Commonwealth University’s Commonwealth Singers embarked on an international musical tour to Montreal in May 2013.  By invitation, they performed with Ensemble Appassionata in their season closing, Harmonies du soir. Their performance at the Salle Pierre-Mercure will include Water Night by Eric Whitacre, The Ecstasies Above by Tarik O’Regan, and Missa in Angustiis (Nelsonmesse) by Haydn.

On April 21, members of the VCU Percussion Ensemble participated in a performance with Grammy Award Winning Ensemble Eighth Blackbird at the University of Richmond. They performed John Luther Adams’ monumental work “inuksuit” for 9-99 musicians, an environmental work (programmed in honor of Earth Day 2013), with performers widely dispersed in an outdoor area. The performance involved over 75 percussionists from all across the country.

The Kappa Psi Chapter of Kappa Kappa Psi at VCU was nominated for the William A. Scroggs Award based on the chapter’s achievements in service to college bands and music. This award is given to the top chapter in the Northeast District and it is the third year that the VCU chapter has been nominated. The chapter has also been nominated for the National Chapter Leadership award.


Victor Haskin’s The Truth.

VCU Music students | May 2013: internships, a debut jazz album, major scholarships and fellowships to graduate school, and more.

Colby Mullen, vocal performance, will be interning in New York City this summer with the Multicultural Arts Management Internship Program, hosted by the Arts & Business Council of New York a division of Americans for the Arts. He will be working at The Louis Armstrong House Museum in Queens NY.

Victor Haskins, trumpet, released his first CD The Truth (32 Bar Records), which can be purchased at iTunes orAmazon.

Anna Bishop, violin, will begin her graduate studies in the fall at Chicago College of Performing Arts for Violin Performance where she received a large scholarship. She will also be interning with Fifth House Ensemble, an innovative Chamber Music group in Chicago.

Marcus Redden, horn, will be pursuing a Master of Music in Horn at Indiana University Jacobs School of Music as a recipient of the Artistic Excellence Award, the Jacobs School’s most prestigious award.

Marla Smith, flute, will be attending the Eastman School of Music in the fall for a Master’s degree in Flute Performance. She will be the teaching assistant to Bonita Boyd, play in the Conducting Orchestra, as well as teaching a course on flute methods to the music education majors as a graduate student.

Justin McConchie, percussion, will be pursuing his Master’s Degree at the Butler School of Music at University of Texas, Austin in the fall.

Stephanie Barrett, cello, was accepted to Meadowmount to study with Clive Greensmith.

Jack Flores, cello, was accepted to California Summer Music to study with Irene Sharp.


May 2013: Marla Smith, flute

MarlaSmithFlutist Marla Smith’s story is one that many VCU Music students and alumni can relate to. A native of Chesapeake, VA, she attended Hickory High School and then the Governor’s School for the Arts in Norfolk, VA, Marla came to Richmond after a long and lively familiarity with the performing arts. After her contact with classmates who attended VCU Music and were progressing well into their artistry, a lesson with assistant professor and flutist Tabatha Easley, and a guest conductor appearance by Daniel Myssyk, her decision to become part of the VCU Music family was solidified.

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