Guitar & Other Strings Series

The Guitar and Other Strings Series, held every July, features all styles of music — jazz, bluegrass, folk, Celtic, flamenco, classical and blues.

Begun in 1992, the series has presented nationally and internationally acclaimed artists in concerts and workshops. Artists who have performed on this series include Leo Kottke, Mark O’Connor, John Hartford, John Jackson, the Washington Guitar Quintet, Charlie Byrd, the Tony Rice Unit, the Del McCoury Band, the Nashville Bluegrass Band, Pierre Bensusan and Stephen Bennett. The VCU Community Guitar Ensemble also performs annually on this series.

April 2013: Daniel Myssyk


A good teacher doesn’t simply lecture, mark up test papers, and repeat the process endlessly for semesters; a good teacher enlightens and challenges students. To so many students, Daniel Myssyk, Assistant Professor and Director of Orchestral Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University, has done just that in their lives. In the words of Justin Williams, a 2011 VCU music education graduate, Myssyk is a “master teacher.” Williams stated, “[He] focuses on the student before the music…[he] is just as focused on creating skilled people as he is focused on creating skilled musicians.” Senior flutist Marla Smith stated similarly that her experiences with Myssyk “opened up a lot of things for me.” Read more »

March 2013: Karmalita Bawar

Karmalita2VCU Music alumni have fascinating stories on their undergraduate years. Bawar, VCU Music Financial/Human Resource Assistant, (’90) is no different. With such a varied background as hers (she nearly majored in synthesizers, people!), it’s no surprise that her career has spanned from nearly every facet of music administrative support at VCU to composing and even teaching.

Bawar has worked in various support positions for the Department of Music since studying for her Bachelor of Music in Composition and Theory from VCU. She began assisting the department as a student employee as a concert hall assistant where she worked lighting and sound for concerts and box office sales. Over the years, she’s even done quite a bit of admissions, marketing, and alumni relations work for the department. Bawar is certainly a “Jane of all Trades” when it comes to music – in the department and beyond. Read more »

January 2013: Dr. Charles West

Dr. Charles West
Dr. Charles West was “blown away” when he received the VCU School of the Arts Award of Excellence in 2011. “That was really unexpected,” he said. “It’s the highest faculty honor the School gives out and to be among that elite crowd of folks who have received the award over the years — it really makes me want to go out and work hard to deserve the honor.”

December 2012: Paul Bakeman


You might not think that one teacher’s reach from an elementary music classroom at Rural Point Elementary in Hanover County, Virginia would extend very far. But Paul Bakeman has touched a lot of lives — in Virginia and around the world.
Bakeman earned his Bachelor’s degree from VCU in 1994 and as a trombonist and self-declared marching band kid, he planned to become a high school band director until a decisive summer job opportunity turned his heart to elementary music education.

Read more »

October 2012: Stephanie Auld

Stephanie Auld presents her Senior Recital on October 12, 2012 at 8 p.m.</p><br /><br /><br />

Senior Vocal Performance major Stephanie Auld hasn’t had the most direct path  through her degree program at VCU, but the journey has been full of life lessons and opportunities.

Stephanie transferred to VCU after one semester at George Washington University  in the spring of 2007 and began as a part-time student with a full  schedule of music and general education classes. She began full-time  study the next fall and immersed herself in classes, ensembles, and  additional singing and teaching opportunities in Richmond.

Three semesters later, she lost her in-state residency status due to her  parents’ move to North Carolina. “The best thing I ever did was to take a break from school, become financially independent, and grow up,”  Stephanie said. “It made me take school much more seriously.”

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August 2012: Linda Johnston

Linda Johnston at the Great Wall of China.

For the past 24 years, Linda Johnston has served VCU Music tirelessly–always ready with an answer, a smile, and an encouraging word. Her official title is Administrative Director and her responsibilities primarily include handling the department’s finances and human resources, but she is so much more.

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June 2012: Darren Otero

Darren Otero

In the late 1980s, while sitting in Convocation in the Performing Arts Center at VCU, Darren Otero never dreamed that one day he would be living in Los Angeles, working on film after film for the Walt Disney Studios and other studios around Hollywood. His credits to date include the 2012 Oscars

telecast, Up, Cars 2, all the Pirates of the Caribbean and Transformer movies, the entire runs of LOST and Desperate Housewives, and many more.

Darren works in the small, but critical field of music preparation. “We’re the people who put the dots on the page for the orchestra — the composer will send us a score and we generate the individual instrument parts for a soundtrack that will be recorded in post-production,” Darren explained.

He describes it as part-copyist, part-proofreader, and part-librarian. But to hear Darren speak of his work, it becomes obvious that it requires much more than just incredible musical chops.

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April 2012: Matt Burns

Matthew Burns

Bass-baritone Matthew Burns graduated from VCU Music with his Bachelor of Music degree in 1997 and since then he has steadily climbed the ladder of the opera world – performing with regional opera companies across the country, performing regularly with New York City Opera, and joining the roster of the Metropolitan Opera. At the time of this writing, he was in Albuquerque, NM preparing to perform the title role in Gianni Schicchi with Opera Southwest.

But he didn’t start out at VCU with his sights set on being an opera star.

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