This series features the quick-hit successes of VCU Music students, alumni, and faculty and staff. Sign up for our mailing list to get the latest department news and information on upcoming events from VCU Music.

Saxophonist Branford Marsalis poses with smiling VCU Music faculty after April’s master class.

Kudos: April 2014

  • James Waterhouse (BME ’72) recently completed five years as principal Organist and Accompanist at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Gainesville, VA. and simultaneously at Haymarket Baptist Church in Haymarket, VA. His recent choral and instrumental compositions and arrangements are now available from JWPepper.com.
  • Sophomore Margaret Mayes won 2nd place in her division at the Mid-Atlantic auditions of the National Association of Teachers of Singing on April 4th, which is comprised of singers from South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, and Washington D.C.
  • Nichole Savage (’13) will be playing Beth in Capitol Opera’s upcoming production of Aaron Copland’s The Tender Land. She is also currently the Minister of Music at Central United Methodist Church and the lead singer of Richmond world/fusion band Karamazov.  Savage also recently became a patroness member of the Richmond Alumnae Chapter of Sigma Alpha Iota.
  • Nick Bonadies, a Senior Piano Performance major, has been accepted to the Royal Academy of Music in London where he will be pursuing a Master of Arts Piano Performance.
  • Richmond’s No BS! Brass performed at the sold out opening of the Broadberry on April 17th. Owned and operated by those behind popular Richmond hangouts The Camel and Joes Inn, The Broadberry is Richmond’s newest live music venue. No BS! Brass is home to professors Bryan Hooten and Taylor Barnett, alumnus Reggie Pace, and recent graduate Sam Koff.
  • Alumnus Douglas-Jayd Burn has been accepted to University of Arizona School of Music on full scholarship. His studies will also include a teaching assistantship.
  • Marcus Grant has received the Graduate Tuition Award from Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music and will begin attending this fall. 
  • VCU Jazz’s Africa Combo travelled to Norfolk, Virginia to perform for the Governor’s School for the Arts.  The ensemble is comprised of six students participating in an ongoing cultural exchange with jazz musicians from the University of Kwazula-Natal in Durban, South Africa.
  • Violinist Chanel Hurt received a Edwin Johonnott Scholarship from the Virginia Chapter of the American String Teachers Association.
  • Alumna Stephanie Auld will be attending the Petri School of Music in the fall to pursue her Master of Music in Vocal Performance.
  • Spacebomb East, operated by several VCU Music Alumni, opened its downtown location in Richmond this month. Spacebomb East is a record label and hub for music production and music publishing projects. It is and has already established a relationship with over 20 former students and some current professors.
  • Sophomore Lanjiabao Ge won the March 2014 Sigma Alpha Iota Scholarship Competition, which was open to all instrumental and vocal areas of VCU Department of Music. In addition to a cash prize, Lanjiabao will perform for the SAI Alumnae Chapter.
  • Darryl Harper’s “rewarding” new album The Edenfred Files was reviewed by Jazz Times.
  • Eleven vocal students were awarded honors at the February 2014 National Association of Teachers of Singing Auditions and Conference in Shenandoah. These included two 1st place wins by Margaret Mayes and Forrest Glass.
  • Branford Marsalis, internationally acclaimed jazz saxophonist and son of  jazz pianist Ellis Marsalis (who holds an honorary doctorate from VCU Music), Jr., presented a masterclass to saxophone students in early April.

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 »

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.

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.