Student Recitals & Studio Performances

VCU Music sponsors and hosts over 200 concerts and events on campus and around Richmond each year. Student degree recitals and studio recitals are listed below.

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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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.

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