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Alumni News & Events


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.”

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VCU alumni | November 2013: After Midnight and Graduate Study.

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.


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.


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.


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 »


December 2012: Paul Bakeman

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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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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