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.

Dr. Yin Zheng, piano, kicks off spring “Journey” Series with Mozart

For classical music artists, mastering the work of a favorite composer is not only a lifelong goal, but an opportunity to understand the composer’s inspiration and thought process intimately. Usually, getting any closer, beyond the written work of long-deceased classical music composers, is an impossibility.

Although Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart has been dead for 223 years, Dr. Yin Zheng found herself closer to him than most modern musicians will ever get to experience. 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.

“It’s an incredibly visceral experience to play on Mozart’s own instruments, to have his manuscripts and letters right in front of us, and to walk every street he once set his foot on,” Dr. Zheng said.

“From the artist stand point, it is an extremely immersive experience and ambitious undertaking to record all 16 mature sonatas for Piano and Violin by Mozart,” said Dr. Zheng. “It took us multiple trips to Salzburg where we had the privilege to study and research on the topic at the Bibliotheca Mozartiana.

As if recording 16 sonatas wasn’t enough, Dr. Zheng gained a new appreciation for Mozart and his work. “We have gained much more insightful understanding of the compositional process and performance practice after studying and comparing his facsimiles and first editions. I have also discovered, apart from some of the popular sonatas, some lesser-known gems in this collection and am excited to introduce them to my students,” Dr. Zheng said.

Journey with Mozart begins the first of several “Journey” concerts. The second, Journey to Eastern Europe, will take place at VCU in April. Dr. Zheng will be performing alongside two of Richmond Symphony’s talented musicians.


Violinist Leila Josefowicz replaces string trio for April 12 Mary Anne Rennolds Chamber Music Concert

Two MacArthur Foundation Fellows take over Spring Rennolds Series concerts

A recent change to VCU Music’s Mary Anne Rennolds Chamber Music Series concert brings two back-to-back performances by MacArthur Foundation Fellows this Spring. Alisa Weilerstein (cello) will perform in the March 29 Rennolds Series concert and a new addition to the series, Leila Josefowicz (violin), will perform in the April 12 Rennolds Series concert. Josefowicz, a world-renowned violinist and former Artist-in-Residence for The Philadelphia Orchestra, will bring her “supple technique” (New York Times) and “fantastic talent” (Gramophone) to Richmond.

Josefowicz has graciously agreed to perform that evening after the Mary Anne Rennolds Chamber Music Series program featuring Pamela Frank (violin), Nobuko Imai (viola), and Clemens Hagen (cello) scheduled for Saturday, April 12 at 8:00 p.m. was cancelled. Due to an unforeseen medical situation, Mr. Hagen is unable to tour.

Tickets already issued for the “Pamela Frank, Nobuko Imai, and Clemens Hagen” concert will be honored by the VCU Music Box Office for the Leila Josefowicz concert. No exchanges are needed.

Spring 2014 Press and Media

Richmond Times Dispatch: Acclaimed chamber music duo in top form at VCU  (Updated: April 1, 2014)

Daily Progress: (Charlottesville) Symphony’s latest concert program explores London through different composer’s lenses.  (March 21, 2014)

VCU Music: Violinist Leila Josefowicz replaces string trio for April 12 Mary Anne Rennolds Chamber Music Concert (March 5, 2014)

R & L World Music Company Blog: Quux Collective (February 23, 2014)

Richmond Times Dispatch: Music review: Jason Vieaux and the Escher String Quartet (February 17, 2014)

The Commonwealth Times: Jazz orchestra to perform on Thursday (February 11, 2014)

VCU Music: John D’earth and VCU Jazz Orchestra I lengthen a sweet and fiery Valentine’s celebration (Updated: February 12, 2014)

Style Weekly: Natural Wonder -Internationally revered trumpeter Rex Richardson reaches a local peak with a Richmond Symphony performance. (January 28, 2014)

Richmond Times-Dispatch: VCU jazz students play at Page Bond Gallery today at 6:30 p.m. (January 9, 2014)


Fall 2013 Press and Media

VCUarts News: Assistant Professor Susanna Klein receives Chamber Music America/ASCAP Award

VCUarts News: Music Chair’s Album Makes “Best of 2013” List

VCUarts News: Assistant Professor in Music receives Sidney Swiggett Award

The Commonwealth Times: VCU Jazz quartet to perform at Nelson Mandela memorial (December 12, 2013)

Related: VCU News: VCU Jazz to perform at the Nelson Mandela Memorial Service in Washington, D.C. (December 10, 2013), ester (VCUarts news site): VCU Jazz performs at Nelson Mandela Memorial Service, RVAnews: VCU Jazz to perform at the Nelson Mandela memorial service in D.C. (December 9, 2013)

The Commonwealth Times: VCU Music welcomes winter with ‘Holiday Gala’ (December 2, 2013)

Richmond Times-Dispatch: Allan Blank, composer and retired VCU professor dies at 87 (November 17, 2013)

VCU News: Student hopes to mend musicians with research (November 7, 2013)

The Commonwealth Times: Flamenco thrives at VCU during fiesta event (November 5, 2013)

Related: Richmond Times-Dispatch: VCU festival explores flamenco guitar, singing, dancing (November 1, 2013), Richmond Magazine: Soul of Spain (October 30, 2013), VCU News: VCU celebrates return on the Flamenco Festival (October 30, 2013)

The Commonwealth Times: African jazz combo crosses international lines (November 2, 2013)

Related: The Commonwealth Times: South African students to visit for jazz performance (October 28, 2013)

Richmond Arts Review: Hear Ye (November 2, 2013)

Related: The Commonwealth Times: Music troupe bumpers Beethoven for Richmonders (October 28, 2013)

Richmond Times-Dispatch: Pianist Pressler, at 89, exudes irrepressible enthusiasm (October 14, 2013)

Related: Letter V (The Virginia Classical Music Blog): Review: Menahem Pressler (October 14, 2013)

VCU Division of Community Engagement: VCU Jazz releases CD in collaboration with South African University (October 9, 2013)

CBS 6, WTVR.com: VCU Music professor helps police nab criminals (October 9, 2013)

The Commonwealth Times: Fall Jazz Festival enters it eleventh year (October 7, 2013)

Richmond Times-Dispatch: Goochland student part of world champion drum corps (October 3, 2013)

The Commonwealth Times: Three-day festival to celebrate British composer (September 30, 2013)

Richmond Times-Dispatch: Pianist’s recital offers melodic gold (September 30, 2013)

Related: Letter V (The Virginia Classical Music Blog): Review: Joyce Yang (September 29, 2013), Letter V (The Virginia Classical Music Blog): Review: Paley Festival (September 30, 2013)

Richmond Times-Dispatch: Richmond festival celebrates music of Benjamin Britten (September 29, 2013)

Related: Faith in Richmond: VCU Music presents Britten 100 Festival (September 27, 2013)

Richmond Times-Dispatch: Richmond artists kickstarting their projects on the web (September 15, 2013)

VCU News: Strings, brass, and keys (September 10, 2013)

Style Weekly: Joy to the World (August 27, 2013)

January-February 2014: Christopher Mastromarino

Christopher Mastromarino, affectionately called “Mr. M” by the students he is leading at Matoaca Middle School in Chesterfield County, is a current undergraduate student in the Music Education program.

His musical journey began with the same tools that many others may remember fondly. The familiar story involves a second-hand piano and childhood music lessons. “When I was young,” Mastromarino reflected, “my father bought me a full-size piano.” The piano, perhaps found with the help of the local newspaper’s classified section, didn’t make lessons any easier for Mastromarino. But Elton John tunes played by ear kept his interest in piano fresh.

A native of Sterling, VA, Mastromarino’s family moved to Arundel, MD during his teenage years. Mastromarino remembers that the school’s music program was a stark cry from what he was used to in Northern Virginia. In Virginia, he was a member of several choruses and ensembles throughout the years. His new environment in Maryland, though, didn’t have as many diverse musical opportunities. As a result, students like Mastromarino took on new roles and responsibilities, even assisting with ensembles and music courses.

Read more »

“A Dream Concert”: Rex and Friends at the RSO

YouTube video

February 8, 2014 at 8:00 p.m.
Richmond CenterStage: Carpenter Theatre

VCU alumni and professors are gearing up for an exciting night of jazz at Richmond CenterStage in February. The performance, headed by VCU Music associate professor and world-renowned trumpeter Rex Richardson, will pay homage to the likes of Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn.

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Courtesy The Commonwealth Times (Chris Conway)

Quick Q&A: Jon Murphy, Assistant Director,”Peppas”

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.

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Kudos: January – February 2014

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 »

November 2013: Dr. Lisa Edwards-Burrs


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 »

Junior Anna Moore with Ghanaian students.

September 2014: Anna Moore

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.”

Read more »